Member Spotlight: Ashley Lazonick, Owner of Ace Creative

Ace Creative is a local full-service graphic design firm specializing in design for education and nonprofits located at 13 Royall St. in Medford.  Ace's significant work in sustainability has not only earned them SBLP certification, but also a Medford Business Green Award. Check them out at!


What attracted you to Sustainable Business Leader Program (SBLP)?

I had just completed the Interise StreetWise MBA which is a fantastic Boston-based nonprofit program that helps entrepreneurs develop a three year strategic plan for their business. The program really helped me look closely at where I wanted my business to go. I realized that my passion for graphic design was really to create designs for organizations that are doing work for good. One of my designers, who is very engaged in environmental activism, introduced me to SBN and SBLP. The SBLP program seemed like a focused program that would guide me through the steps that needed to be taken to get my business going in a more socially conscious and sustainable direction. I had a pretty good idea of the types of clients I would like to work with but I wasn't sure where to begin in terms of being a more sustainable design firm and I liked that SBLP had a really straightforward and practical approach to certification. 


Why do you feel sustainability is an important part of your business?

Besides feeling good about what I create through my business it's also important to me that my clients and community see that our goals are in alignment with theirs. Our clients are working to create a better world and it's important to me that, although design is just a small part of what they do, that it is done responsibly and sustainably wherever possible. We are in small office with a relatively low carbon footprint working away with very little paper waste on a few desktop computers, however, sustainability comes into play in a much more significant way when we take a look at the large quantity of paper-based collateral that we design. 


How does sustainability play into the graphic design/printing industry?

As graphic designers who specialize in both print and interactive design, we are aware of the great amount of paper waste and bi-products that our print work generates once a job goes to press. We also believe, however, that tactile design, printed on paper, still has a place in the modern world. I feel a responsibility to stay educated about best-practices for environmentally friendly printing including: understanding the benefits of recycled paper; sourcing paper from mills that use renewable energy sources; and using printers who use soy based and low VOC inks. We've stayed educated by really taking time to survey all of our vendors and ask questions about their sustainability practices. 


What does Ace Creative specifically do to contribute to the local green economy?

We have made sure that our physical office space is as sustainable as possible including building our studio primarily with recycled or reclaimed materials, installing a tankless heating system, and ensuring that our own waste is disposed of and recycled properly. Solar panels are next up on our list. We've switched all of our office supply vendors to local, green vendors who we have been very happy with. In terms of the social entrepreneurship piece we also make sure to support small non profits and local small business by offering reduced rates and pro bono work whenever possible. We've supported a local CSA as an "office perk" and also done volunteer days with our small team at local urban farms. For client work we really make sure to let clients know about environmentally friendly options for printing. We quote every job on a recycled paper option and make sure that we create our designs to the most effective size to optimize the press sheet and reduce paper waste. 


What are some challenges you face in doing so?

There are a ton of certifications and jargon that seem to float around in the printing industry. From FSC certification (Forestry Stewardship Council) to printing recycled paper, to using soy-based inks... it is great that printers are on the right track with environmentalism but "printing green" can mean very different things to different people. For example a minimum content for soy based inks is 20% but some printers use more and some use less. And "recycled" paper may only contain 10% recycled content. It's important that we have some knowledge and tools to cut through some of the smokescreen of sustainable terms. 

It can also be challenging to educate some of our clients about environmental practices in printing without seeming pushy. Many of our clients work on small non-profit budgets and can be tricky to convince them to spend extra money on recycled options for their print jobs. Fortunately the industry standards seem to be slowly changing so that the price differences to "go green" are becoming less. Furthermore, creating hybrid solutions that include print and interactive platforms is becoming the norm which in itself is a sustainable practice. 



By Pat Connolly, SBLP Intern




email: [email protected]    |    phone: (617) 395-0250

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