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please consider the environment before printing this e-mail May 22, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Technology Trouble.
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A lot of people these days have begun adding a small line of green-colored text to their e-mails. It usually looks like this:

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

Do you notice that? Do you even care?

Photo by Marco Varisco.

Photo by Marco Varisco.

Well, first of all, are you the kind of person who prints out e-mails? Most of you who read this blog don’t do so willy-nilly. I for one print out certain e-mails — mostly flight information — but the only time I really print out messages is when I have to get a record of something or give it to someone who’s not capable of reading e-mails on a computer screen*. A lot of my co-workers print out e-mails so they have paper to shuffle at meetings — nothing beats a few pieces of paper to fiddle with so you don’t look like an idiot when you’re called upon. Plus, you can doodle on them.

What’s worse than printing e-mails, though, is printing e-mails and leaving them on the printer, never to be picked up. That’s just a complete waste.

But here’s the thing: if you’re an e-mail printer, you’re not going to be swayed by a little line of text asking you not to. You might feel a pang of “oh, I totally missed that”, but for the most part you’re just going to print it anyway, read it, and throw it away. If you’re not an e-mail printer, then the person putting the line in the message is preaching to the choir and it’s a waste of perfectly good screen real estate.

I guess the message makes people feel better about themselves by not printing the e-mails, and it allows companies to say “see? We’re greener! We tell people not to print our e-mails!” But really it’s useless. It’s not going to change people’s behaviors. Tech-unsavvy people print, and tech-savvy people don’t. There’s really no middle ground.

Please consider the environment before printing this blog entry.

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* Believe it or not, we still have people incapable of looking at an e-mail and transferring information from it into a database. And we pay these people as much as I make. Once a month I have to print out about 200 e-mails and hand them to her so she can put them in a database.

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Comments»

1. Printing site - June 24, 2009

I wonder about how much impact this “campaign” of email footers has, but maybe it makes the sender feel better. A kind of carbon offset, if I print a lot, I’ll try and encourage others to print less to offset my wasteful printing habit.

On the other hand, maybe it’s the ultimate chain letter. Forward this daft signature to everyone and maybe we’ll save a tree. :)

If you want to add it there is a how-to guide at thinkbeforeprinting.org which might be useful for something. Not sure what.


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