Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Giving Stupid Requests Due Consideration.

There is an automatic signature appended to a number of emails I receive. Some of these are generated by or originate from a dedicated Scottish theatre group on Yahoo, others come from different sources, but all carry a similar request. Specifically, they ask that I “please consider the environment before printing this email.”

Firstly, none of these emails has ever contained anything I have wanted to transfer onto paper and retain for posterity. Most of them get skimmed over and then deleted, and some of them don’t even get a cursory glance before I send them to the electronic tip. I’m not considering the environment before printing them out, I am considering whether the sender has included any relevant information that moves me to keep hold of their words. So far, never.

As an aside, it has just occurred to me that maybe the sender knows the mass email they are sending out contains little of value, and that’s why they attach a request asking you not to print it out? “Hi, there’s nothing worth reading in this, so please don’t keep hold of it.”

Anyway, my main point is this: what harms the environment more – the printing out of one email, or the technology required to write, transmit, and store that email?

I just think it’s a bit short-sighted, as though refraining from using a sheet of paper, some ink, and a bit of electricity will somehow offset all of the electricity used to run computers at both ends, the servers and telephone exchanges in between, and in the manufacturing process of all the necessary elements.

A better, and more appropriate, message to end on might be along the lines of: Please switch off your computer and continue this correspondence by post.

That way, you’ll be using less electricity, for a start, and utilising the exisiting Royal Mail infrastructure to contact people far away. Hell, if enough of us do it, maybe it will result in job creation, as demand for their services increases.

Until then, though, keep pretending that it is abstaining from printing your memo that will save this doomed planet.




One response

  1. More often than not, the “please consider the environment” line is the bit that makes it take up two pages rather than just one.

    July 22, 2012 at 9:17 am

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