Surviving the Sustainability Maze
Remember the good old days when life used to be simple and relaxed? I am not talking about farming a few centuries ago, but about the printing industry—and, more specifically, paper.
No one questioned your paper choice on an ecological basis 20 years ago. There was virgin paper and virgin paper, and that was that. Then came the recycling wave (not the first surge in the ’70s, when you could hardly print on recycled papers, but the ’90s wave). Then there was a “real” choice—virgin or recycled—and often at a premium price.
But, all this still seems like the good old days compared to the choices we have today. Virgin, recycled, post-consumer, FSC- and SFI-certified...It’s enough to make your head spin.
Even though many paper mills have been talking about these issues for a while, overall, there is still a lot of confusion. And, if you think you are confused, meet your clients—the designers and print buyers who want to “do the right thing,” either from their own environmental concerns or because their companies have an environmental policy.
Build on trust. Webster’s definition of a client is a person that you guide, care and protect.
A recent survey by a prominent U.S. design magazine showed that more than 80 percent of designers like to think they are in charge of the paper decision. But you and I know, that when it comes down to it, they rely on you—the printer—to help them make these choices...choices that are good for the environment and make their design look outstanding.
They rely on you to know it all. Advising your clients will not only establish you as the expert, it will help you gain your client’s trust, and trust is what long-term relationships are built on.
Lead the way. Put aside the long-lasting feud between designers and printers, and respect your clients for who they are. Designers are not hired because they know printing processes inside and out, but because of their vision, their creativity and their ability to solve communication problems for their clients.
Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, 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.