Arbokem’s Downtown Paper

Two weekends ago I was at Compostmodern, a one-day conference put on by the AIGA about sustainability and the design industry. I chatted for a while with the reps for the great paper company New Leaf Paper, and I asked them if they’d ever heard of Arbokem paper, which I’d used back in 1997 and ’98 for some clients and for Bay Area Action‘s letterhead.

Arbokem’s little-known Downtown Paper line was one of the best alternatives on the market back in the late ’90s, and that’s saying a lot. That time was pretty much the beginning of recycled papers’ popularity, but almost no companies processed chlorine free and very few paper lines were 100% post-consumer.

But Arbokem’s Downtown line was even better. It was 45% wheat straw (agricultural waste that would ordinarily be burned and cause air pollution), 42% post-consumer recycled paper, and 12% calcium phosphate, which whitened the paper without the normal chlorine bleaching process that causes cancer-causing chemicals to be poured into our streams.

Tonight I was thinking about the paper again and I Googled Arbokem to see if it’s still around. Sure enough, the company is, and apparently they do all sorts of other obscure R&D;, but it looks like the paper is not produced anymore. Shame, it was a great alternative.

Incidentally, while Googling Arbokem I came across this 1997 article from the Palo Alto Weekly that I’d never seen, which mentions my use of Arbokem (look for “Western Front Graphics,” my old company name, about two-thirds down).

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