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Getting greener: Don’t make it, don’t take it.

I’ve never been a big environmentalist. Never been anti either.  Just neutral.

But I’m increasingly aware of just how much crud I generate.  As far as I can tell, someone comes into our house every night while we are sleeping and fills all the garbage cans with paper.  The Trash Fairy? Garbage Claus?  (Admittedly, a huge percentage seems to be related to substances that come out of my 4-month-old baby.  She is a perfectly optimized milk-to-turd conversion engine.)

Here’s where I can make a little difference … follow along if you please.

Don’t Make It – Don’t Take It

1. Don’t take paper.  Don’t let people give it to you. 

  • Don’t accept printed marketing material. Tell them to email it to you. You don’t need to lug around a bunch of brochures. (This so disappointed my cool new design firm, who printed an amazingly attractive portfolio for me.  I’ll look at it online here.)
  • Tell restaurants you don’t need a bag to carry the already over-wrapped single sandwich you are going to eat in the next sixty seconds.
  • Buy stuff with minimal packaging.  I like these Avery folders, that just have a little sticker instead of being wrapped in cellophane. Train manufacturers to use less packaging by buying things with less packaging.

2. Don’t make paper.

  • Don’t print stuff just to file it (and then throw away 10 years from now).  Just save it on the hard drive and back up often.
  • Use tiny handouts instead of big brochures.  This bookmark is more effective than anything I’ve ever printed. It’s also cheaper, cooler, and 200 fit in your back pocket. Get creative, learn to tell your story in a 2×7 inch space.
  • Print large documents 2 pages per sheet (or 6 per sheet for powerpoint). All laser printers do this.
  • Stop printing emails.  I’ve started seeing the following on the bottom emails I received: "Please do not print this e-mail unless absolutely

3. Large-scale situations.

  • Conference producers: Stop printing handouts. Put them on a CD or memory stick instead. It’s cheaper for you, easier to travel with, and nobody wants a 300 page ring binder.  (Even better… put them all on SlideShare.)
  • Get rid of the copy machine. Offices that don’t have copy machines don’t make so many copies. You think twice when have to go to Kinkos and pay for it. You can do fine printing extras on a laser printer or using a little fax/copier deal for small quantities.

4. Exceptions.

Resources and links:

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