Anyone with a whit of common sense knows this: When you shoot, it’s good to know what’s beyond your target.
It’s always humorous to read when someone forgets that on the larger scale, but even moreso when they’re a hypocrite and calling for the end of something they do a worse job of.
Let’s start from the top.
The whole thing started earlier this month when Toshiba announced its plan to encourage Americans to pledge not to print on one day in October. Toshiba launched the campaign at the Sustainable Brands Conference in San Diego, where more than 150 companies gathered to promote sustainable practices.
And let’s face it. Conservation is IN, people. It’s COOL to own a Prius, to recycle your cans, to join FreeCycle, share or re-use items. In recent emails, I see my co-workers, contacts and friends with cute little green tree logos, urging me to “consider before printing” in an effort to save the planet. I have to be honest here – paper is expensive and makes my offer a cluttered mess if I print stuff and don’t use it, so I wouldn’t just NEEDLESSLY fire pages past the rollers for no reason here. But hey, thanks for the thought! Maybe you have such a thoughtless and stupid person in your contact list that you interact with that this might actually make them stop and say, “Holy Pulpinator, Batman! I’m printing out stuff I DON’T EVEN NEED!”. And so that we’re all on the same page (heh, paper page), I’m good with that, and bravo to you and your careless-but-slow-learning contact!
I should be nicer. Everyone has to start somewhere. I’m even jumping in by making my own soil and compost. Caring about the plant has been cool for a long time, and more people are joining in. But eventually, the beginning of one craze means the end of another, and sometimes people and industries suffer.
Sometimes people suffer.
Sometimes people suffer immediately.
Like the person who had to answer to the PIA – the Printing Industries Association, the trade group who collectively pinched an entire box of 8 1/2 x 11 upon hearing the news that Toshiba made the announcement.
And that poor sap was Bill Melo from Toshiba, who had to answer on behalf of Toshiba’s Marketing Campaign of “Celebrate No Print Day”. Printing is wasteful, argues Toshiba America Business Solutions Inc. And you know, they might be right.
But just like my co-workers and their cute email footers, did anybody pay attention? My paper use didn’t drop as a result of someone suggesting that I do (or don’t do) something. In fact, the more I print, the more “brown” compost I add to my garden. Sure, there’s plenty with the weekly local ad-riddled newspaper that uninvitedly shows up on my driveway (and run over carelessly by my wife). Who reads that thing anyway? I don’t. It goes into my garden. So I have plenty of paper. But that’s not going to stop me. If I need to print out a map, or an email for reference, I’m going to whether or not Toshiba says so.
And I think Toshiba is okay with that. They’re at a conference. The topic is sustainability. They’re trying to do right. I don’t think I’ll be getting publicly castigated for printing my mother-in-law’s new doctor’s office driving directions from Google Maps. And if they do, they can take it up with her. I”ll supply the number AND even pay for the call. Yes, it will go outside of my minutes plan, and I dare you.
But the Printing Industry, reeling and trying to make profits – in their minds – just heard Toshiba tell the entire world, “Hey, everyone who makes paper? Yeah, screw those guys for a day. Nobody needs paper. EFF THOSE GUYS and let’s all SAVE THE PLANET TOGETHER!”. You can almost hear the needle drag across the vinyl records in their little brains at the top of the 5th floor of the Paper Factory as the screams of agony flare out, the demands for “more coffee” and “get our lawyers on the phone” are screamed mercilessly at
secretaries Executive Assistants, who are forced to quickly close their chat windows and Words With Friends screens.
But let’s face it. Paper is a losing battle, and is an industry that just doesn’t need to be used anymore. Who would know better than Toshiba?
And Toshiba is right. We need sustainability.
Especially by a corporation who makes plastic parts and electronics that have a shelf life of less than half a decade, and may include VOCs (Volitile Organic Compounds, known as those things that are really really bad for you) in their finished products. Toshiba’s contribution to the plant in my case was saving the future of Planet Earth by not producing and supplying a plastic disc called an “Operating System Restore Disc”. Instead, by placing a copy on the hard-drive, they provided the same feature. This is great sustainability. Unless, of course, your hard-drive crashes or otherwise breaks, and then you’re really up the creek. But forget about my convenience, or my need for a quick solution like a handy copy of Windows 7 for a quick hard-drive swapout. We are talking the COOLNESS of sustainability, and it can be counted in the number of pounds of plastic that DIDN’T go into the wastebin. Toshiba sold over 100k of those disc-less computers, saving thousands of needed and useful waste from entering the “someday landfills”. I’m glad to see that, for as much of an inconvenienced person I was for the duration of my Toshiba blackout where my useless laptop was awaiting a disc in the mail (still waiting, apparently, on a new technology called “THIN AIR” to arrive before I finally receive it), that their concern has spilled into other industries because they care so much about the planet.
So let’s summarize.
Toshiba: “Let’s have a No-Print Day”.
Printing Industry: “How sustainable are your plastic computers, replaced every 2 years and offering a 90-day to 1-year warranty?”
Toshiba: “On second thought, let’s encourage people via email to not buy gasoline for their cars on March 1st and send a message to the oil companies to lower prices…..”
And sometimes, I think this is how that email pass-around stuff gets started. In fact, I’m convinced that I’ll be seeing it arrive in my work inbox by the end of the month.
Of course, followed by a cute logo of a green tree reminding me not to print it out.