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Sabine Lenz

Making the Grade

By Sabine Lenz

About Sabine

Sabine Lenz is the founder of, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 


No One Cares How Green You Are

They show up in my inbox with tenacious frequency. Hardly a week goes by when I don’t get word of a paper mill having released their latest sustainability report.

No one cares.

From the response—or should I say lack of response—we get when posting this news to our paper-loving peers, you cannot help but wonder: Are all the efforts we all make to be “sustainable” in vain?

It might be a stretch, but remember about 15 years ago? The Internet was still in its infancy (yep, not that long ago). More people than not used dial-up to connect. DSL was considered super fast. Not everyone and their cat had a Website yet; it was a big deal and big news if you did. Now people expect you to have a Website. How could you not?

It’s the same with sustainability. Five or six years ago, being green was a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition; now it’s expected.

Designers and marketers expect you to do the right thing, and the same goes for the printers they partner with. They expect a paper mill to offer recycled and FSC/SFI-certified paper options. They expect mills to be environmentally conscious, to reduce their water waste, and to create as small a carbon footprint as possible.

So keep publishing those sustainability reports, paper mills, and more importantly, keep pushing that green envelope. You might not get clapped on the back for it quite as much as once you did, but that’s a good sign.

It means that thanks to your efforts—and to those of everyone in the print community who paid that bit extra to go green with you—sustainable has become the new normal, and that is an achievement to be proud of.

P.S. I know you care about sustainability, but do you feel your clients do? Do they ask for your green credentials?

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