My nephew must have been just 3 when I told him paper was made of trees and he laughed at me. Well, maybe he didn’t laugh at me but he did giggle because I am his “silly” aunt. But in this instance, in a public restroom where I urged him to only use one paper towel to dry his tiny hands, I was totally serious. (And by the way, now that he’s 5 he can tell when I am being silly so we don’t have these kinds of mix-ups anymore.)
Paper is something near and dear to my heart because I spent the first major hunk of my career working in newspapers. As an avid recycler and general hater of waste, I could often be found trying to convince my fellow newspaper men and women to please recycle and by the way, please do not waste paper by printing out something that’s only four lines long. Or don’t print something out then leave it on the printer for hours, because obviously you didn’t really need it did you? Then there were the piles and piles of newspapers that stacked up on desks around the newsroom. And because I can tend to be sort of obnoxious sometimes, I’d usually say something if I saw one of those stacks of newspapers being dumped into a regular garbage can. If I had a quarter for every time someone said to me, “You’re in the wrong business for someone who’s so worried about wasting paper,” well I’d have a couple of bucks at least.
What made me think of this was that this week, after a little over a year working at Care2, I decided to empty the paper recycling bin under my desk. Considering that I used to empty my recycling bin every couple of days in my old job, the fact that it took me over a year to fill this one felt like something worth celebrating.
Obviously we don’t trade in a lot of paper at a Web site, but I do feel proud that I only generated one smallish box of paper in a whole year. One thing I almost never do is print things like e-mails or memos. I keep any documents I might need later on my hard drive with a digital copy backed up on a CD. I also use a notebook made of 100 percent recycled paper, and write on both sides. Much less wasteful and less messy than a bunch of pieces of paper strewn around my desk.
For tips on making your office more eco-friendly, read 7 Green Office Moves. But above all, remember what paper is made of. Even my nephew knows that a forest full of trees is preferable to a bunch of scattered paper in a landfill.