What does our landscape of sustainable Visual Merchandising look like and how can we push towards a future without plastic? IDL Creative Director, Kerrie Kent explores the possibilities of environmentally-friendly displays in a challenging retail climate.

I know how easy it is to respond to a brief in a way that ticks all the boxes; aesthetically pleasing, promotion-driven and most importantly on (or within) budget. Time is of the essence for us all, so we know that the basic formula of designing / prototyping / production and installation needs to be as seamless as possible, but we shouldn’t compromise on the planet’s future when making these decisions.

As we witness the rapidly shifting dynamic between bricks and mortar shops and various digital selling platforms, at IDL we’ve been asking ourselves where we can make improvements in our own business and thereby help those we serve for a more sustainable future of retail display, one we can be proud of when it’s time to hand it on to the next generation.

Design Decisions

As we see a huge shift in digital purchasing, we can start to experiment with influencer marketing. Stores must be focused around brilliant customer service and experiences, giving consumers something unique and making them feel ‘at home’ in your stores is key to their loyalty and your success.

At the point of design could you reduce or reimagine with some clever ‘re-purposing’ of display items? Could you use sustainable materials in your displays? Minimalist design will be key and clever use of mannequins / product and graphics can ensure that you are making some eco-friendly decisions.

Investment in new technology will always keep you ahead of your competitors so explore the idea of digital screens which gives you the ability to update content quickly, cheaply and with minimal impact to the environment.

Positive Impact

It could be that we recycle the components used in a window schemes by giving them to your consumers or repurpose props by re-coating or re-making elements.

Here at IDL we are trying our best to recycle our waste materials appropriately, our HP latex inks are recycled (and have been awarded for workplace safety by GreenGuard) and we offer the facility to recycle paper, plastic and glass on-site. Since 2017 we’ve only used delivery service providers that comply with carbon emissions standards.

Process + Materials

There are a wide selection of sustainable materials already available on the market with more being developed every day in order to comply with new regulations. While materials are key to design and vice versa there will always be alternative solutions to achieve the same aesthetic.

If you’re choosing elements that are printed then a digital process is best, you are guaranteed that the paper its being printed upon will have been harvested from renewable raw materials, wood (all our paper is sourced from FSC® certified mills). When digitally printing you also reduce waste inks and cut the energy output required to complete the work.

We care about becoming a completely environmentally friendly business and we’ve invested heavily in our future. We very recently purchased a brand new Vutek H5 printer with 82% less energy consumption and the ability to print to a vast array of recyclable substrates. Our old Vutek was recycled too and has started life in a new home.

While the list of sustainable materials is growing rapidly, we can create powerful and engaging brand messages without compromising on sustainability goals. By engaging with IDL you could start to make the change to push towards sustainability.


Perhaps encourage your customers to recycle unwanted clothing or goods, offer discounts for old items being returned to the store. Tell them how they can recycle their unwanted items. Make them feel encouraged to promote your message of sustainability so they can spread it far and wide.

We all want to reduce our environmental impact and seeing the companies we love making a positive statement only deepens the connection between consumer and brand. This isn’t just another trend that will pass us by, we need to find smarter ways of working that ultimately won’t cause damage to the world we live in.

Whether you sit on the board or you’re an intern, it’s up to us all to make positive changes. We understand that it’s hard to take drastic measures in an industry that has behaved in the same way for generations but here at IDL we are committed to trying our hardest to improve process, quality and functionality.

If you are interested in hearing more about the ways your creative campaigns can be sustainable or if you would like to receive our sustainable materials pack get in touch.