Please Consider the Environment Before Printing This Email


I just got an email from some university staff person who has to send messages to some huge list. I almost didn't read it, but then thought, "What the hell; I can skim it in 15 seconds, and it might be relevant to some aspect of my life." The actual content of the email wasn't anything I need to know, but her signature caught me: it read, "Please consider the environment before printing this email."

I have friends and colleagues who print out all their email. It makes me crazy. It's such a waste--of paper, of toner, of energy, of space, of everything. I realize there are times when you have to print out an email, but 99 times out of 100, you don't.

One of the reasons I still like and use the email organizer Eudora is that it lets you have all sorts of signatures and choose a different one each time you send an email. On my old desktop I had something like 30 signatures. On my laptop I've only entered ten, one being my home address, another being my work address, a third being the url for my blog, and the rest being quotes I like, including this favorite, something US Grant wrote shortly before he died:

I do not sleep though I sometimes doze off a little. If I am up I am talked to and in my efforts to answer cause pain. The fact is I think I am a verb instead of a personal pronoun. A verb is anything that signifies to be; to do; to suffer. I signify all three.

I also love this from Plainwater by Anne Carson:

It is an endeavor as old as civilization to set out on a road that is supposed to take you to the very end of things, if you keep going. What do you find there? That is a good question. Who would you be if you knew the answer? There is one way to find out. So a pilgrim sets off. One thing is certain, one item is constant in the set of beliefs with which he travels. It is simply this, that when you reach the place called the end of the world, you fall off into the water. Some pilgrims drown, some do not. Claro.

I like this from John Quincy Adamas as well:

America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own...she would involve all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition.... She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.

But my new default signature is definitely going to be "Please consider the environment before printing out this email."


Sometimes it seems like we're drowning in a sea of paper, doesn't it? My assistant insists on printing off paper copies of everything she gets on the "wire" and then filing them. I keep mine on the server for two years and then 86 them. Only once have I not had something I needed -- but then I think of the space paper takes up and what the trees think of it, and shrug.

I remember all too well the push towards becoming a "paperless society." You see some of that happening in the medical field, as my doctor has switched to an all-digital charting system, and the only paperwork he has to generate is for lab tests. Sometimes though, it seems as their is just as much paperwork today as their has ever been.

For my job, (I have to do something to pay the bills while launching this freelance writing business of mine) I keep 99 percent of all the paperwork I would normally have in my cube on my computer. The company got smart and transferred a lot of the reference material we use on to a central website that we can access while we work, rather then having then pinned up in the cube. Fortunately, as I telecommute, it also means I don't need to have endless amounts of paperwork on my desk or in my files.

As for e-mails, the only time I print them out is if they have driving directions on them......

I started seeing that signature on emails a little over a year ago, and I LOVED it. It amazed me to see how many people were just astounded that maybe they shouldn't print every single freaking thing on paper. It's now my favorite email signature, especially since I don't think anyone prints mine out in the first place.

What makes you think that any of your messages are so fucking important that anyone would want to PRINT the damn things?

And who are you to assume that your recipients are so utterly benighted that they need to see this insipid and pretentious piece of useless advice?

Perhaps YOU should "please consider the environment" before you turn on your computer in the first place, in order to send your stupid messages with their silly signatures.

You're a mean, nasty, horrible person, Harold George.

I have never "assumed that any of my messages are so fucking important that anyone would want to PRINT the damn things." I have seen people holding printed copies of emails I have sent, containing, for instance, requested information, like the title and author of a book, or a link to some website of interest, information that might need to be kept, but doesn't need to be printed on a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper and stuck in a file for a while before ending up in the trash.

As for assuming that people "are so utterly benighted that they need to see this insipid and pretentious piece of useless advice," well, people have confessed that they DID need the advice, and did not consider it insipid, pretentious or useless.

Since you're wasting all sorts of energy trolling the web for people to be hateful to, why don't YOU do the environment a really big favor and DROP DEAD?

I agree with Holly, but please consider the environment before dropping dead Harold.

I actually came back to post this message, I found some info about how to add the please consider the environment before printing type messages at this website -

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on April 25, 2008 9:38 AM.

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