Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Campaign to Reduce Paper: Change the Margins

The Campaign To Change the Margins:

Tamara Krinsky has devised an elegantly simple campaign that should warm the heart of anyone trying to promote sustainable living: reduce the default margin setting on your word-processing program. She has helpfully tallied up some of the environmental benefits if every American reduced the margin setting to .75" on all sides of their documents (from the current default of 1.25").

we would save:

-6,156,000 trees

-9,840,368 million British thermal units (Btus), which is enough energy to provide power to 108,136 homes

- 1,459,535,366 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to the emissions of 132,528 cars

-584,396,539 lbs of solid waste, which is the equivalent of 20,871 fully loaded garbage trucks

- 4.8 billion gallons wastewater, which is enough to fill 7,408 Olympic-sized swimming pools

Tamara Krinsky's site should serve as a model for those trying to devise green campaigns. She has a very specific proposal that could not be simpler to implement. It will yield significant cost savings in addition to the environmental benefits. It does away with a usually invisible form of waste, for which there is no benefit: having extra white space surrounding your documents does nothing to improve them, and eliminating it will not affect any conceivable performance measure.

She has also focused on a handful of corporate and institutional targets who could serve as a first wave in the widespread adoption of this measure. Her site includes a petition to Microsoft to adjust the default settings on their software, which would probably accomplish the goals of her campaign without the necessity of persuading a single word-processor--for how many people would go back and change the settings? Until then, however, it is up to us to put in place her excellent recommendations and spread the word to our friends and colleagues.

See Change the Margins for more on the benefits of reducing the margins on your documents.

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