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green@work : Magazine : Back Issues : Sept/Oct 2001 : Innovation

Innovation
How Does Your Paper Rate?

A tool helps weigh economic and ecological considerations in design.


What paper should I specify? This is the most important environmental question graphics professionals are likely to face on a regular basis. Through our paper choices, we are directly connected to the preservation or the degradation of land, water, air and the creatures that dwell therein. The good news is that we now have plenty of alternatives to the destructive papers of the past. The recycled and tree-free papers listed in the “Ecological Guide to Paper” generate fewer toxins and impact the environment far less than standard virgin wood, chlorine-bleached papers.

Berkeley, CA-based Celery Design Collaborative, in association with the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) San Francisco Chapter, has published this Ecological Guide to Paper. The double-sided poster features information on more than 40 environmentally superior papers from 21 manufacturers. It lists fiber content, basic weights and even price range for the best ecological papers on the market today.

“We created this as a practical tool to help designers integrate ecological thinking into their normal work flow,” says Brian Dougherty, a partner at Celery. “It is the kind of thing people can pin on the wall and immediately have access to all of the information they need in order to make the switch to using better papers.”

Each paper in the guide contains either 100-percent recycled fiber (at least 50-percent post-consumer) or a significant amount of tree-free fiber. “We set the bar high to demonstrate that 10-percent or 20-percent recycled is no longer the best that designers can practically do,” says Dougherty. “Many of these papers match mainstream stocks in quality and price and have much better environmental profiles than what most designers are currently specifying.” In addition, no chlorine gas (elemental chlorine) was used to bleach any of the fibers in these papers.

The flip side of the poster has a large illustration of the typical papermaking process that is at once chaotic, disturbing and strangely beautiful. It renders “an abridged lifecycle of the virgin papermaking process” as a sort of decayed forest littered with bits of hand-drawn text. Patrick Castro, a partner at Celery and the chief illustrator for this project, says, “We tried to make the poster work on several levels. It’s an overwhelming mess from 20 feet away, which conveys the wastefulness of virgin papermaking. From five feet, you can make out a landscape of decrepit trees. From two feet, you can see that the trees are actually diagrams of inputs (branches) and outputs (roots) of the various stages involved in making virgin paper. At this level, the poster is really about educating people on what goes into the paper they use.”

This is the first of such tools to help clients weigh economic and ecological considerations in design, which were begun in the spring of 2001. The guide can be viewed on-line at www.celerydesign.com paper in addition to its poster form. The second tool in the series, the Ecological Guide to Color, will be completed in October 2001.

For more information on the guide,
call 510-649-7155 or visit www.celerydesign.com.


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