Alumnus Michael Walters '99 helps Luther Book Shop go green with Whitelines

Oct. 8, 2010

The Luther College Book Shop is going green by stocking Whitelines on the store's shelves.

Whitelines, a company based in Stockholm, Sweden, produces carbon neutral paper from the Nymolla Mill using a closed-loop carbon dioxide system, resulting in no carbon dioxide emissions from the paper production plant.

The company's carbon-neutral papers are now incorporated into Luther's sustainability plans, thanks to a connection with a Luther alumnus.

Michael Walters, a 1999 graduate of Luther College and North American director of business development for Whitelines, contacted Jim Haemker, director of the Luther Book Shop, about putting the Whitelines product on the shelves of the bookshop.

"The plant actually reuses its carbon dioxide waste to fuel its facilities," said Walters. 

"Whitelines fits directly with Luther's focus on sustainability," said Walters. "By placing our product in the hands of students today, they can take the message of innovation, creativity and sustainability and use it in the future."

 Other colleges and universities offering Whitelines products include Harvard, Stanford, the University of Arizona, the University of Washington, and numerous other environmentally conscious colleges throughout the country.

"Paper is the third largest commodity used today," said Walters, "so by switching to a carbon-neutral paper product, there is huge potential for individuals, institutions, businesses and governments to reduce their carbon footprint."

Walters first encountered the innovative Swedish company while attending a trade show in Germany with his company, studio503, in which Walters partners with other businesses to direct their overall market strategy.

"We connected right away by discussing a theory of inventive problem solving called TRIZ," said Walters. "Although this theory is rare in American universities, Tim Schweizer, Luther professor of management, is an expert in the field. He was my mentor while I was at Luther."

The paper production technology isn't the only innovative aspect of the paper company.

The paper products are printed on toned paper with white lines, creating less visual interference with the writings and sketches placed on the page. The white lines also disappear when using a photocopy, fax or copy machine.

"The paper reduces the visual stress that comes with the distractions of dark lines on a page," said Walters. "There is less reflection and interference, making writing and sketches stand-out from the page instead of being buried within the lines."

The technology has been shown to help people with autism, dyslexia and eye stigmatism by removing the eye fatigue and visual distractions that occur when the dark writing competes with dark lines on the page.

"Whitelines paper is an example of innovation creating a small change with a large impact," said Walters. "It's a simple idea that can help everyone's writing and drawing, while working to protect the environment."

For more information about Whitelines, visit the http://www.whitelines.se/.