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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Do signatures help the environment, or hurt?

I’m getting a lot of email that ends with a signature urging me to carefully consider saving the environment by not printing the email.


This seems innocent enough, if a bit patronizing.  But does it help or hurt the environment? 


We have to weigh

(a)     the probability that this changes someone’s behavior, times the environmental effect of printing.

(b)     the environmental impact of manufacturing and maintaining the additional storage space required for these signatures – and the environmental impact of the additional ink used up if the email is printed anyway.


I’m not sure that the effect of (b) isn’t at least as large as (a).

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