Sustainability is relatively simple to define: living and working in such a way that Earth and its resources are no less available to any future generation. Easy to say, and easy to claim for a business or a product. But it’s in our daily lives that sustainable change has to happen. The United Nations, well aware of the global situation, challenges us all “to adopt new behaviours and practices to secure our future”.

We started Paradigm in 1989 with sustainability as a key foundation for the business, and our services. And it still is. As original members of AEBN (Auckland Environmental Network), later SBN (Sustainable Business Network), we have always believed business could and should do better. Now as others see the importance of sustainable business, we are proud to have helped lead the way.

Green printing has become a somewhat meaningless catch-all phrase because most printing these days is done with vegetable oil-based inks onto paper. At Paradigm we print as far as possible with post-consumer recycled papers and TCF (totally chlorine-free) stocks. Our offset printers use digital prepress and eco-friendly press chemistry. We print carefully assessed quantities, and use digital printing for limited-run work. Or it goes online. You can always ask our advice about the best choices.

While the signage, banner and display industries are slowly moving towards more eco-friendly materials and inks, choices are still very limited, esecially where tight budgets define client choices. We try to avoid using PVC or vinyl (, and where appropriate use 100% recycled polypropylene. However, plastics are a rapidly changing field and while the use of plant-derived polymers is still boutique, it will probably require a big jump in oil prices to make these new materials mainstream. Please ask if you are interested in options, and what the advantages/disadvantages are for your use, especially if outdoor.

Our communications with clients and suppliers are predominantly email. We don’t have a preprinted letterhead, or any brochures; only digital business cards run to order. Where possible we deliver direct from the printer/supplier and carefully monitor courier use. Any packaging is mainly paper-based and reused as it comes in. So you will sometimes get bubble wrap but it’s reused – we don’t buy any plastics in unless there is absolutely no alternative. And we’re changing our packaging tape to unbleached paper.

Our self-made office lighting is energy-efficient LED, we use two small personal oil-filled heaters, recycle all papers, cans and bottles, compost our organics, and are virtually zero-waste.

Our office is outfitted from TradeMe, side of the road and home-made, as an active choice. We don’t buy the latest or fanciest, just what we need to do the job. And we work it efficiently, recycling at end of useful life.

As members of SBN, we not only help out on planting days but privately plant 500-1000 natives per year on restoration sites in Auckland and further north.

Our whole operation is lean and mean with few frills: not always the best advertisement for a business, but for us, the kaupapa and mahi are more important than a costly façade. It also means we keep your costs to a minimum. We never bother our clients with irrelevant sales calls, in fact our profile is so low some of you have never been to our office. Feel free to invite yourselves over for a coffee!

We have always given advice freely, sometimes in the hope that it might lead to more work, but primarily because we want our clients to be able to make informed choices. Ask us about anything to do with sustainability, about how to print greener, about using design to solve problems, about local production vs China, about how to look after your native garden...

As a small adjunct to our work, we also make limited-run products out of the waste stream – please check out our SALVAGE pages.