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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

No Impact Man Columbia---One week follow up on paper conservation

First question I had to decide with my reduction in paper usage was if it was OK to use paper that had already been used by someone else?  This came up first in the battle of the stink bugs.  My usual approach was to take a tissue or napkin and grab them and squish them and throw them in the trash.  Was it OK to do this if I used a napkin that was already in the trash? I decided to use the approach of catching the bugs and throwing them outside which will only mean that they will lay there eggs and try to come back in this Fall.

Next I had to decide if I could read the morning paper if it was already in the house because my spouse likes to read a regular newspaper rather than reading the paper online. I put the newspaper down and decided to only read the paper online for this week.  It won’t save paper unless I stopped the subscription but this is one that I will compromise for the sake of peace at home.  So while my wife read the paper I watched Morning Joe on MSNBC.  Is watching TV in the morning a worse tradeoff than reading the paper?? Which brings up one of the issues of trying to be a No Impact Man---do I make others in the house give up what I am giving up? I have decided this is my project and will not impact others.  But I did not use or reuse what paper products others use this week.

On success that I did have was that I only printed out one page on my printer this week. And that was for my son who doesn’t have a printer.  He doesn’t have one because dad does. I emptied my tall wastebasket from my office and am always amazed how little my office has “gone paperless.”  This will definitely be an area that will be dramatically reduced for good. I just have to go digital with my “to do” list instead of using post it notes.

I saw some instances this week of the redundancy of paper and electronic forms.  At the Columbia Medical Plan (or whatever it is called these days) I am forced to sign a form with each visit that does something but I never read it so I don’t know what.  When asked why I have to sign the paper I was told that only a signature on paper was legal.  What? Haven’t we got to the point of electronic signatures yet?  I have a password for everything else why not a signature?  Notice how most of the doctors at the Plan have gone to electronic pads for their records? I also did a refinancing this week and they had sent me two paper copies and gave me another at the closing and a CD of the forms.  Couldn’t all that have been paperless if they gave it to me on a CD?

With my daughter getting a Kindle this week it did make me think how much longer before I go digital with books.  I know that it is the wave of the future but for now I read my library copy of “No Impact Man” again and the book is made from recycled cardboard for the cover and recycled paper.  Is only reading a book from the library, which already has the book “no impact.”  It is like justifying flying in a jet plane, which I do regularly, by saying the plane would go with or without me.

Now onto an area that all of us would like to see ended.  Junk mail.  Is the Post Office in business today just to give us our daily dose of junk mail?  Bills are paid on line, bank deposits are done electronically, no one writes letters anymore.  I have gone to sending birthday and anniversary cards electronically with JibJab. It works better than the old way because I can set the cards up weeks ahead of time to be delivered on their birthday or anniversary. I don’t know how many times I would think of sending a card the day before the event and know that it would get to the person late.  Now I can do it the day of the event and know they will see it that day.  I know some of you may still want to stay with the regular cards as being more personal but making a JibJab card takes me more time then just signing a regular card.  Plus choosing cards just isn’t as much fun since Party, Party, Party closed.  Looking at the humorous cards there was always good for a laugh or two.

Paper plates, napkins, cups and towels were almost completely eliminated this week.  I did once reach for a paper towel when I dropped an egg on the floor.  It was a reflex move.  With the use of regular plates, cups and towels that have to be washed I am not sure about the energy savings and am not sure what I will do during next week’s water conservation week.  Eat off dirty plates?  Put them outside if it rains?
So what will I keep from this week and what will I go back to?  The hardest thing to give up was the morning newspaper--especially on the weekend.  Nothing sets the weekend apart from the weekday like lingering over the weekend paper sections while enjoying two cups of coffee in your favorite chair.  Sitting at your computer reading the newspaper online just isn’t the same.  Maybe if I had an IPad it would work.  Something about sitting at a computer means work and sitting in my reclining chair means relaxing.  I do have a complaint about the way the online version of the Baltimore Sun is organized.  I know that anything in a digital form is organized differently than in a written form.  But when you click on the “Print Edition” link on the Sun page shouldn’t you see something that resembles the print edition?  Not some random listing of stories in no particular order.  So I will go back to reading the paper.

The one thing that will stay is to print out much less from my printer.  Most of the things I printed out in the past were not really necessary, as I have found.  I haven’t been less productive by not printing out things when you have everything saved online. I will also proof anything that I am printing out more carefully.  Many times I would print out the same document after each of my edits. Plus this will save money on new printer cartridges, which are a rip off on the cost.

I can also say that with more careful monitoring of what went in the trash instead of the recycle bin I didn’t need to put out any trash this week. This has been annoying for my family, as I have been picking through the trash each night to take out the recyclable items. 

On to week two and the great “water conservation” week.  Does this give me an excuse to wear the same clothes all week?  And when one of my family says, “Dad didn’t you wear that shirt yesterday?” I can say it is for the blog.  What if I wear the same shirt on Friday that I wore on Monday? Would anyone keep track of my shirts that long?

I found a section in the No Impact Man book that I wanted to share that I think is the real issue of the book. As Colin Beavan states, “I am not sure that reducing individual resource use is the entire way forward.  At their root, most religious philosophies say do less harm, yes, but they also say do more good.  There is a limit to how much less harm I can do. But my potential for good is unlimited.  All of our potentials for good are unlimited.”   

I came across this interesting article in the Orange County Register.

P.S. 2
Something to look forward to on Sept. 10 with the opening of the Robinson Nature Center in Hickory Ridge


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Wendi said...

Instead of throwing the stink bugs outside to procreate, you can drown them. You could keep a cup of water (out of sight) with the carcasses and flush them at intervals when you're going to be flushing anyway. And a plus of the drowning without squishing is no stinky smell. I'm a bug-o-phobe, but I've become so used to the darn things that I can just pick them up with my fingers now.