The Incongreenient Truth: Cost Effective Ways to Better Your Business While Saving the World


Oh beautiful!
For smog-filled skies
For sludge-mired Gulf Coast waves
For countless landfills overflowed
Trash flying o’er the plains!

America! America!
We’ve dumped a load on thee!
But starting now
I’ll try, somehow,
To make it up, you’ll see!

Happy American Independence Day! Guest blogger Virginia here, charged with getting outspoken on this fine holiday. I’m pretty sure that American holidays aren’t complete without some blush-inducing episode by Aunt Vickie or Cousin Jerry. So if you didn’t make the family barbecue this weekend, lean in because I’m about to hit a topic usually considered taboo on a first date. I’m talking about politics, or more specifically, the business politics of environmental responsibility.


A founding father (by whom I mean Internet creator Al Gore, of course) once spoke of an inconvenient truth. The problem is, no one’s trying to make a mess of the planet. We’re just going about our lives the best way we know how, making a living, supporting our families and hoping to have some fun along the way. It’s certainly not anyone’s intention to make a grown man cry or turn the atmosphere into an oven. But the time for ignorance is past. It’s time to be responsible for our actions or it will be our kids paying for our mistakes.

The upside is that going green can be a win for your business. Doing what’s good for the environment can also be good for the business by cutting operating costs and attracting green-conscious consumers.

But there’s no point in sugar coating it. The advantages of eco-friendly living don’t come without costs. If the planet could be saved by going about life the way we always have, there wouldn’t be a problem in the first place. There’s going to have to be a conscious effort on our parts. Some actions will take more effort than others. Some changes may cost more up-front. And some consumers have serious doubts about whether green claims are any more than just greenwashing.

So with business realities of cost and required resources in mind, I’m suggesting ways to make your business a bit greener along with a 3-point “incongreenient” rating system that takes into account short- and long-term effort, short- and long-term cost benefit, and marketability of brownie points in the eyes of consumers. To wrap it up, I’ll highlight ways to leverage your green efforts to win the hearts and minds of customers.

Reduce, Recycle, Reuse

If you want to give green a go, start by auditing the business’s current use of supplies and what’s thrown out at the end of the week. I bet this act alone will get you thinking of places to save on excesses in the workplace.

In terms of the 3 Rs, reduction of waste is probably the easiest place to start environmental efforts in the office. For the most part, reduction is where you’ll see the most immediate benefits to the bottom line. Recycling takes a little more effort upfront, requiring a conscious effort to place something in the recycling bin instead of the trash, as well as some coordination with a recycling vendor. Reusing is probably the most cost demanding of the 3 Rs, but it’s just as important because it “closes the loop,” if you will, and it’s also the most likely to be public facing.

Businesses of all sizes have already jumped into the green game and seen great benefits from their efforts. Not only can they be proud of making a difference, but they’re reporting concrete boosts to the bottom line. This could be your business, too.

Reducing Paper and Ink

I know, I know, by now you’re tired of hearing about this, but it’s so easy to do, it should be criminal not to. Consider:

  • Each year, Americans throw away enough office paper to build a 12-foot wall from Los Angeles to New York City.
  • Businesses in the U.S. use about 21 million tons of paper every year, or in other words, 175 pounds of paper used by every American.

Here are some easy ways to reduce the waste associated with printing.

1. Print as little as possible. Obvious, right? It may help to include a reminder in the office e-mail signature, something like the message we use at my company: “Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail. This email was sent using recycled electrons.” It makes the point and is cute about it. And since e-mail communications will be seen by clients, you’re likely to get some recognition for your efforts from your customers.

2. Make double-sided printing the default setting. This is another simple one. Set it, forget it and forever after save paper.

3. Use an ink-saving font. Using Century Gothic over Arial an result in up to 31% less ink! Other fonts that save ink compared to Arial include Times Roman and Calibri. Just remember, while airy fonts like Century Gothic use less ink, they typically use more paper, which makes double-sided printing that much more important.

Incongreenient Rating:
Short-term effort: 1
Long-term effort: 0
Short-term cost benefit: 1
Long-term cost benefit: 2
Consumer brownie points: 1
Overall incongreenience: 1

Reducing Kitchen-Type Waste

recycling world man

Most businesses offer a kitchen-type space with essentials like a coffee maker, a fridge, a microwave and drinking water. But here are some more scary statistics on American office waste:

  • 2.5 million plastic bottles are tossed out in America every hour.
  • Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks and spoons every year to line the equator 300 times.
  • The average American office worker goes through about 500 disposable cups in a year.

500 cups per person in less than 365 work days? Is that really necessary? Of course it’s not. Certainly, employees need to drink and eat at the office, and as a thoughtful employer, you’ve provided for them. So instead of the disposable stuff, provide the office with reusable water bottles and thermoses for everyone. Sounds expensive? Consider this math:

Reusable water bottle = $10
Hot beverage travel mug = $10
500-count paper cups = $45

The cost of both reusable cold and hot beverage containers for each employee is about $20. Compare that to the average cost of providing disposable cups over a year, which is about $45. (That’s if you’re not really cheaping out and getting despicable Styrofoam. Blech.) While there’s a slightly higher up-front cost in buying reusable drinking vessels versus disposables, a business will actually be saving over the course of a year, not to mention over the years that follow.

The most significant inconvenience is that the employees will need to clean their dishes. So yes, there’s 2 extra minutes of time needed by the individual, and people will probably moan about it, but if someone can’t give up 2 minutes, why do you think Mother Earth is cool with you pillaging her for all her resources?

Incongreenient Rating:
Short-term effort: 2
Long-term effort: 1
Short-term cost benefit: -1
Long-term cost benefit: 2
Consumer brownie points: 0
Overall incongreenience: 1

Reducing Energy Consumption

Businesses today rely on electronics which require energy and use fossil fuels. You can reduce the amount of energy used by devices in your office in a few easy ways.

1. Turn off machines and monitors after hours. Shutting down a computer before leaving the office can become second nature. It only takes a minute and is easy to do once it becomes a habit.

Incongreenient Rating:
Short-term effort: 1
Long-term effort: 0
Short-term cost benefit: 1
Long-term cost benefit: 1
Consumer brownie points: 0
Overall incongreenience: 1

2. Use energy saving equipment and multi-function devices (MFD). First off there’s the good ol’ CFL (compact fluorescent light), which costs more than incandescent bulbs, but pays for itself in just 6 months because it lasts longer and uses 75% less energy. Energy Star products meet strict efficiency guidelines, and while they cost more than their not-so-efficient equivalents, they often make up the cost difference within a few years through saved energy costs. Meanwhile, you’ve probably heard that when power cords are plugged into power outlets, they pull energy even if nothing is connected or the device is turned off. MFDs do the job of more than one machine, meaning fewer devices plugged in. Instead of having a separate printer, scanner and fax machine, consider devices that do all three. The fewer devices plugged into the wall, the less energy used.

Incongreenient Rating:
Short-term effort: 2
Long-term effort: 0
Short-term cost benefit: -2
Long-term cost benefit: 1
Consumer brownie points: 1
Overall incongreenience: 2

Recycling Paper Products

Your options for paper product recycling depend on your location and the services available. Unlike home recycling programs, businesses typically must contract a local vendor to obtain recycling bins and arrange pick up procedures and schedules. The current waste hauler for your business may offer a recycling program, or your county or municipal recycling office may provide a service.

Additionally, some training is necessary for employees taking part in the program, and it helps to have a recycling coordinator in the office to oversee the program, communicate with the recycling vendor and get employees on board. However, once in place, an office recycling program requires little maintenance besides the effort needed to sort recyclable materials. Review the Paper Industry Association Council’s workplace guide for info on potentially recyclable material and ideas to motivate people in the office.

Incongreenient Rating:
Short-term effort: 3
Long-term effort: 1
Short-term cost benefit: 1
Long-term cost benefit: 0
Consumer brownie points: 1
Overall incongreenience: 1

Recycling E-Waste

We know as well as anyone that the fast-pace of technology means that today’s must-have device will be obsolete and replaced tomorrow. Electronic waste is the fastest growing category of American garbage. Electronic waste recycling requires careful treatment due to toxic metals and chemicals, and because of the stringent requirements in the U.S., e-waste is often sent to international facilities where little concern is paid to the health and well-being of those in contact with the toxic materials.

Thankfully, the options for electronic recycling aren’t limited to poisoning our lands or poisoning workers abroad. The Basel Action Network monitors toxic trade and provides a searchable locator of globally responsible electronic recycling programs around the country. If there is not a BAN-approved facility in your area, consider the Telecommunication Industry Association’s e-recycling location finder along with recommended questions to vet e-waste recyclers.

Many facilities offer pick-up services as such programs are not yet widespread, however drop-off may be required. Some communities hold periodic e-recycling events to make participation easy. Because hazardous waste management is such a specialized process, such recycling services often charge for their services.

Incongreenient Rating:
Short-term effort: 0
Long-term effort: 2
Short-term cost benefit: -2
Long-term cost benefit: 0
Consumer brownie points: 1
Overall incongreenience: 2

Reusing – Closing the Loop

light bulb and recycling symbol

Reducing office waste and sending appropriate waste to recycling facilities is just one part of the equation. Reuse is the final piece of the puzzle, essentially putting to use the post-recycled products. What good is recycling if the material’s second-life isn’t put to use? Purchasing recycled material makes a positive environmental impact because it means less material going to the dump, it saves raw material, and it reduces the pollution needed to process raw material.

Buying post-consumer recycled products (products made with materials that were used and then recycled) may cost more than the comparable “virgin” products — and then again, it may not. The EPA explains that the cost of products, both virgin and recycled, depends on factors as varied as distributor mark-up to quantity ordered to geographic location, though the average price difference between recycled and non-recycled paper is 5%.

Though while it may cost more, consumer-facing recycled products are likely to earn acknowledgement from consumers. If you’re an online retailer, you come into contact with your consumer through your shipping material and cardboard packaging as well as your product. Along with packaging, company stationery, direct mail, brochures and contracts, are seen by clients and the community and can earn your business recognition from an eco-conscious crowd. When the up-front cost is considered with the ongoing brand boost, the long-term cost of using recycled material balances out.

Incongreenient Rating:
Short-term effort: 1
Long-term effort: 0
Short-term cost benefit: -1
Long-term cost benefit: 0
Consumer brownie points: 2
Overall incongreenience: 1

Leveraging the Power of Green

If you’ve put in all that effort, you deserve credit. You may have noticed that most of the brownie point ratings above are on the low side, but when added up, even the zeros add up, making a big statement to an environmentally conscious customer base. Consumers appreciate the effort and they feel good about supporting eco-responsible businesses, so tell the world about your good work.

Issue a press release: Publicize your green accomplishment like any other, starting with the traditional method and its new media incarnations. Tell consumers about your commitment to green business practices, including specific goals and tactics, in all the ways you would any big announcement, such as using social media channels, tapping your network of influencers, and attracting publicity in the community.

Create a case study: As more businesses look into the financial, environmental, and brand benefits of eco-responsibility, case studies are a helpful public resource online. In researching this article, I came across a number of green business case studies, with companies reporting significant estimated yearly cost savings and estimated greenhouse gas emission savings. You’ll also find information about tactics not mentioned here, like green infrastructure and building and the use of carbon offsets. Creating a case study of your business’s successes and lessons provides visibility with an interested audience of businesses and consumers researching environmentally conscious businesses.

Submit your business to green business directories: There are a number of online directories dedicated to aggregating green businesses. Submit your business to directories like Green America’s National Green Pages, Green Biz Directory and Eco Business Links to gain visibility and traffic from green enthusiasts.

Tell people on your site: Announce your green commitment prominently on your website. Dedicate a page on your site to explaining your environmental efforts and any recognition received from the community or relevant organizations, and optimize this page for searches for your brand name as well as “green product/service” type queries. Also highlight relevant green practices on product or service pages as well as shipping pages.

Seek out certification and awards: Green certification lends trust and credibility to your environmental efforts within the marketplace. A green seal on your website or in e-mail signatures or other public communications helps associate your brand with awareness and responsibility. However, beware certification programs that take advantage of well-meaning businesses. Be sure that the green certification organization is reputable and isn’t just interested in taking “audit” or “assessment” fees. offers a list of credible green certification organizations in the U.S. and the world for renewable energy, buildings, manufacturing and a number of consumer products.

If the planet and your children’s future are important to you, you can make green work for your business in practical and cost efficient ways. It’s not easy being green, but it’s definitely worth it.

[Photo credit CC BY 2.0]

Your Comments

  • Todd Mintz

    The ultimate green office is a virtual office…telecommuting is the ultimate “green” business strategy.

    • Virginia Nussey

      Hells yes, Todd. Telecommuting makes a huge dent in a business’s carbon footprint, but it requires a major shift in the culture, tech requirements and management style, far beyond anything mentioned above. Not that that’s bad. I’d say a major shift is in order.

  • Gil Reich

    Nice post, Virginia. I wonder if Century Gothic really makes the planet live longer or if it just makes it feel that way. Echoing Todd, reducing physical travel is key. Another way to stop throwing out so many forks and knives is just to eat with your hands. I’d love to see a KFC campaign praising the environmental benefits of finger-licking good. Why not run a contest for funniest incongreenient ideas?

    • Virginia Nussey

      LOLZ! Marketing geniuses have the greatest ideas. I may just have to reuse that one, Gil, to generate momentum in the green wave. It’s true! Nothing gains converts like a laugh or smile :)

  • Michelle Robbins

    Didn’t catch this yesterday Virginia, but happily catching up today and so glad to see this post!

    Another recommendation I would add is to understand the totality of energy resources used with respect to web servers – by your company, and by your clients if you provide or recommend hosting for them. We host all our sites with Tiger Technologies who have implemented green practices and are carbon neutral with the services they offer (they actually offset more than they produce). I’m sure other companies may have similar programs – but it is something that could be easily added to the checklist of requirements when looking for hosting/dns/domain providers.

    • Virginia Nussey

      Thanks, Michelle! Serious oversight on my part! Servers are such a critical consideration in the effort to greenify. Those questions are now on my checklist for vetting a hosting company.

  • Duncan Gunn

    Great post – getting the message across that you can be green AND save money is one that I’ve been focusing on to market ElectroForms, a mobile data collection service that can replace paper forms with more efficient electronic versions.

    It just plain makes sense!

    • Virginia Nussey

      Totally. How are you finding businesses responding, Duncan? Does the promise of cost savings secure a sale or is there hesitance to change or a belief that it’s too good to be true? Just wondering what your experience has been as someone on the front lines.

  • Chris Miller

    Permission to be outspoken for a moment? Posts like this hurt our planet.

    Imagine if recycling caught on as well as people in the green subculture would like it to. In fact, let’s go to the extreme and say half of the US urban population recycled because of a few blog posts on how to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Now a good portion of the USA is done. You’ve told them printing double sided is all they need to do – their debt is paid, and they’re good citizens now. Now what happens when BP ruins a good portion of the world’s ocean? “Hey, that sucks, but I did my part, I print on both sides… I’m gonna flip the channel to a re-run of Seinfeld that I’ve seen eighteen times now”.

    Individual contributions mean nearly nothing – and the cost of putting people’s mind’s at ease with trivial individual carbon footprint bullshit means they aren’t trying to influence large organizations and governments who are able to take actual steps that really would make a difference.

    • Neil

      Baby steps.

      I think your reply is far more harmful to the planet than Virginia’s post.

    • PedroStephano

      Posts Like This Hurt Our Planet (controversial opening statement suggesting that logical argument showing how A causes B will follow)
      Argument(s) follow. No proof shown. Just some extra emotional and unrelated statements about TV(?) and oil(?).
      No proof = #fail. Resubmit.

    • Virginia Nussey

      Thanks, Chris, for the opportunity to address this concern because I’m sure you’re not alone. It’s interesting that you want to separate our personal choices at the office or home from the expectations we have of larger organizations in our lives. I can’t speak for everyone, but green responsibility isn’t just a personal lifestyle choice for me, it’s part of my moral code.

      I almost think environmental ambivalence works in the opposite way as you suggest, if the argument is that people are likely to put forth the least effort possible if they think they’ve done their part. So rather than thinking your job is done because your cans are in the blue bin, it would actually be easier to offload environmental responsibility on big corporations, argue that they should follow stricter regulations, and put the government on the hook for policing big business’s actions. Rationalize avoidance of personal inconvenience because someone else is taking care of it.

      But the real sign that something is important can be seen in the personal choices people make. Activist starts at home. From there it trickles out into everything they do. People bring their beliefs with them everywhere they go. There is no separation between personal expectations and societal ones if they’re deeply rooted.

      Surveys show that more and more people are starting to choose eco-friendly products when given a choice between the two. The free market suggests that demand generates supply, in this case, green business practices. Even by our personal choices to recycle and use post-recycled products, we’re supporting a system that can shape industries. Consumers are who major corporations want to please. Citizens are who governments are meant to protect. If we’re serious about environmental responsibility as individuals, it’s only a matter of time before our buying behaviors and political will reflects that.

      Contrary to building ambivalence, posts like this stoke the fires of passion in society. Since posting this, I now know that there’s a segment of my industry that feels the same way I do. I’m not alone and I know who I can go to to help put pressure on large organizations or the government. Either you fight against it, you fight for it, or you say nothing. What will saying nothing get us? My guess: doing nothing.

    • James

      So rather than do something small, we should do nothing at all?

      If we applied that reasoning to all of our endeavours, we’d still be living in caves and surfing with a 33.6K modem.

  • Keri Morgret

    An addition to the double-sided printing is to set your word processing margins to 1″ all around instead of the 1.25″ Word often uses as a default.

  • Chris Miller

    Sigh. For those who are responding in anger, you’re making unjust assumptions about my comment. Just because I’m speaking directly, doesn’t mean I’m attacking anyone (which I’m not). I’m simply pointing out that promoting a broken idea is worse than not speaking. You can disagree with this, but responding in anger is silly.

    Big changes need to happen, and individuals can’t (directly) make those changes, neither can large businesses making small changes.

    Neil – From my understanding of the situation, our planet’s condition is getting worse at a faster rate than our “baby steps” are progressing. If we continue at this pace, we will probably be fine, but two generations from now will be totally screwed.

    James – no, we shouldn’t do nothing at all, we should work smarter, not harder. Children do their best. Adults make things happen. If adults do not have the tools or resources to finish a task by themselves, they become resourceful and find a solution. Right now our environmentally-conscious culture is saying “look at me mommy earth, I made something for you” – they get paid in happy feelings. The problem is people don’t do great things for happy feelings, they do great things for power and money. In the US, that means corporations and politics.

    Virginia – I agree that promoting a culture of environmental responsibility has a snowball effect, and that’s probably the best we can hope for – but that doesn’t give us an excuse to belittle the urgency. For those of us willing to take the effort to post a blog on how to make a difference, I think that energy is better spent creating a more urgent awareness, just like the Al Gore was trying to say in An Inconvenient Truth. It just seems as though nobody really listened – they put on their I <3 Recycling glasses and turned their thoughts into "well, at least we're recycling.

    Pedro – I'm not going to spoon-feed you data, if you cared about the facts you would have looked them up by yourself already. My regurgitating data won't make you see the situation any differently. If you are genuinely interested in the topic, An Inconvenient Truth is probably a good place to start, there is a lot of data referenced in that movie that can be looked up and verified online.

    What if last year, instead of coming up with a recycling plan for your office, you came up with a patent for a means to monitor the transportation of oil throughout the US? What if the US Government bought this patent and put it into effect, and the BP spill never happened? You would be rich and the Gulf would have been saved.

    • Virginia Nussey

      My moderate approach doesn’t belittle the urgency. Rather, it aims to garner support from a wide audience base. I respect and am inspired by your approach to green living. However, the urgency of the situation demands widespread support in a big way, as you explained.

      I know that many people are turned off by radicalism and once turned off, are unlikely to consider the value of green living, especially if it requires a change in lifestyle. People don’t like being reprimanded or told that everything they’re doing is wrong. They’re likely to shut you off completely and just stop listening.

      I also feel that too many people are at risk of writing off environmental responsibility all together because they fear the costs associated with it. My intent in this post was to demonstrate that green doesn’t have to mean less green in the bank, because that’s really the true motivator in our society.

      I merely hoped to open people’s minds to the consideration that there is value in green living and working by demonstrating ways to get started and to appeal to the power of the pocketbook. It’s my hope that once the environment wiggles its way into people’s thought processes, it will build support from there.

  • PedroStephano

    Hey Chris :-) I think you and I share more commonality & headspace than my (brief) post touched upon. Big changes are needed. But the biggest need is to reduce energy consumption. Just monitoring oil transport will not decrease demand. The hole in the gulf is there because enough people were prepared to pay for yet another tank in their personal transport solutions. If there was no demand, it ould not be cost effective for the oil companies to drill. As to decreasing enery consumption, banning hairdryers, electric toothbrushes, tumble dryers and air conditioned stadiums would be a good start. Think about it – what are they for other than consuming bucketloads of electrons that have to be generated. Working on significant and worldwide population reduction measures would be another bigger start. But as you rightly say, we need Big Government to do Big Things. And there’s the rub. They won’t. Not enough anyway. They’ll just go through the motions until the end of the political cycle. Sigh.

    • Chris Miller

      Technology is a big part of the problem. If it weren’t for technology, we would only be dealing with increasing population, which in itself, isn’t as immediate of a threat.

      Within the realm of technology, I think it’s nearly impossible to impose limitations such as banning hairdryers, because who would do it? The Government is the only organization in place to do such a thing, but who would vote to limit our freedom? And how much money would go into enforcing this kind of law? The Government could impose a power regulation, but again, that’s going against our freedom in a big way – It’s a no win situation, in my view.

      With the popularity of green culture, there are some positive aspects of technology, though. Hybrid cars, for example – when they become cheaper to buy as well as operate, even the “right-wing” (not to take sides) people would have no reason not to go green, even if unintentionally. Why would they do this? Because they save money. As far as hairdryers, what if someone invented a brush that used reverse ion fusion to create a negative humidity or used dark matter to absorb water molecules, but was perfectly safe to use (and more convenient)? Sure, that’s far fetched – but you get my idea.

      It doesn’t even have to be high-tech technology. I ride a motorcycle as my only (motorized) transportation. I get a few miles to the gallon short of a Prius, it’s cheap to repair, brand new is half the price of a car, and when it’s ready for the junk yard, there’s very little that can’t be recycled. If safety, stability, passenger capacity, and weather were solved in a mainstream way, this fifty year old technology could cut our nation’s oil consumption in half within five years. Plus it would boost our economy (the rest of the world would want them too), and put us in better moral standing with the rest of the world.

      One final thought – what if it was an officially undisputed fact – in ten years, coal and oil (what’s left) in all forms will vaporize. Think the powerful and the rich would stand by and watch?

      • Helen Driscolll

        Chris — I totally agree that the small efforts of consumers won’t make that much of a dent. We have to completely revamp our systems. Our energy systems. (decentralized, all hooked up to a smart grid), our manufacturing systems, our POV on disposables vs quality products. I could go on and on.
        The people at Coop America (now Green America) have been thinking this through for 25 years now. They are smart and hold amazingly sophisticated conferences. Their Green Business Conferences are beyond fabulous.
        It’s all about systems, we have to build new systems. Whatever it takes.

  • Helen Driscoll

    We’ve run a green business (eco paper + printing) for about 15 years — it ain’t easy!
    Re paper. Please, please, please use 100% PCW recycled paper. Mohawk and Neenah Paper both make super attractive 100% PCW paper.

    One of the mills we use went into bankruptcy a few years ago. Not enough market for recycled paper. Better now, but not by much. (We do fancy stuff, so we use lots of alternative fiber papers.)

    56% of paper is getting to the recycling bin — and from there it is shipped to Asia. We need to create systems here in this country, for recycled content.

    Use tree free paper if you can. Paper has been made out of trees for only 125 years. Papermaking is a 2000 year old technology.

    Sometimes, you need hard copies for record keeping.

    We don’t have to cut down trees to make paper — but we can make paper out of post harvest waste. Like sugarcane. Really. I swear. I’ve seen gorgeous paper made from corn husks.

  • Sam

    I would like bottled water to go away. The amount of money and energy to produce and ship these little plastic containers is astounding.

    HEALTH CONSCIOUS people want to “feel good” about themselves and say to their neighbor, “Hey, look at me, I am drinking WATER. I am healthy.”

    If you buy into “Smart Water”, chances are you are pretty dumb and aren’t concerned about the environment. Pun intended.

    Good article.

  • Helen Driscolll

    Yes — which is why most of our business is weddings! When people want fancy + special.:) We make wedding invitations out of orange sugarcane paper…. We would have died years ago, if we marketed to business use. I don’t even concern myself with business uses, as that market is so price sensitive.

    Maybe in 10 years the price will be equal. The sugarcane is usually burnt or dumped, so all the cost is in transport and processing. Cornhusk cellulose – not sure where it ends up now. The amazingly smooth and luscious corn husk paper I saw 10 years ago, was made in Italy. It was “normal” looking cardstock.

    There is no reason that hemp paper isn’t eventually the same price as tree pulp paper. Grows quicker than trees. (When you grow hemp for fiber, it gets really tall, like bamboo. About 18 feet or more. It is also grown close together. Takes about 6 months to grow that tall.) Of course, hemp was the first fiber used for papermaking, 2,200 years ago.

    For most businesses, just use as close to 100% post consumer waste recycled paper that you can find. That is easy to do. Really important to make these markets sustainable. It is just pathetic that only 2 or 3 mills in the US make 100% PCW paper.

  • Man Ray

    I remember in the old days when you can just go outside and drink water from your neighbors hose. Now if ever you buy a hose, they have a tag that says “not fit for human consumption.” When in fact, those water bottles were filled up using the same hoses.

    Great article as always Virginia. The only thing that I don’t get is how an idea with logical intentions can be blown out of proportion. Well that’s just me. I’d rather look for alternatives rather than gripe about the obvious.

  • Bill

    Great post. In addition to the ink saving tips you mention, I’d also recommend using remanufactured (aka recycled) ink cartridges rather than buying new, brand-name replacements. As the name suggests remanufactured cartridges are rebuilt from used empty cartridges. The remanufacturing process is not just about refilling the cartridges; they are taken apart, repaired, new parts are used if needed, and than they are refilled with ink. Recycling and refilling ink cartridges keeps millions of empty toner and inkjet cartridges out of our planet’s landfills and incinerators. It helps reduce solid waste, conserves raw materials and the energy needed to produce a new product. Most cartridges can be recycled up to six times – they are refurbished, refilled and then resold to consumers at a lower price than brand name cartridges. Recycled cartridges produce the same quality and output as new cartridges. And you can also get paid to recycle ink cartridges