Taking Stock: XLR8R Goes GRN

Over its fourteen-year history, XLR8R magazine has been documenting underground electronic music, fashion, culture, and design. The approach to...

Colin Nagy
Colin Nagy on October 11, 2007.

Over its fourteen-year history, XLR8R magazine has been documenting underground electronic music, fashion, culture, and design. The approach to editorial, in their words, is to “break new artists and challenge cultural paradigms.” The recent Paris issue is a beautifully curated guide to all things in emerging culture in the city, and is also the first issue they’ve produced to use 100% recycled paper stock — one of just a few publications in the world. PSFK recently caught up with the magazine’s publisher, Andrew Smith, to discuss the motivation behind the switch, what it means for their readership, and also the publication’s interesting approach to digital.

How long has this changeover been planned? What was the original motivation?

The move to recycled paper has been something the XLR8R staff has been striving toward for some years, beginning in the mid-90s with experiments using a tree-free paper made of Kenaf fibers. In recent times recycled paper has become more affordable, making the switch possible.

How many other publications use this level of recycled stock?

We only know of a handful of publications that use 100% recycled paper, all of which are in the environmental category. We don’t know of any music nor style titles that are using this degree of recycled paper.

In addition to the environmental benefit of the recycled paper stock, what other benefits does this offer for your readers?

The paper we’re using is milled in Denmark from paper recycled from Copenhagen, and has the excellent qualities of European paper: true matte texture to represent images effectively, a high degree of opacity to eliminate “show-through” of images through the paper, and an excellent tactile experience due to the slightly porous nature of the stock.

Describe the approach to electricity in the printing process.

The energy used in manufacturing this exceptional stock is offset with Green-E certified energy certificates.

What is the cost to your bottom line? How are you managing this cost in such a competitive media environment?

The paper cost was an increase of approximately 20%. We feel that this move is environmentally sound, but gives us a competitive advantage because it’s another example of how XLR8R has stayed ahead of the curve. I feel like the majority of publications will be printing on some percentage of recycled paper in the next few years.

What other initiatives is XLR8R currently undergoing to become more sustainable? Also, describe your digital approach.

Every issue of XLR8R is now available as a PDF from our website, via direct download and podcast. We are pushing hard with unique content on, including our weekly online TV show, XLR8R TV. All of which is completely tree-free!