Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How Green Is Your Writing?

photo by Chance Agrella
No, not do you write about "green subjects".  That might not be your thing at all and that's just fine.  Not everyone can or wants to write for green magazines or create books on 'green' subjects like recycling and climate change.

The question here is, how green is your little corner of writing world?  What do you think about and do to help in your own small way with keeping things in hand, cutting down on paper use and pollution?  Have you thought about it or did it just not occur to you because proportionately you use so little? 

Well, every little bit counts and today we're going to give a nod to aimng at green writing. So use a little common sense, make some effort and show your respect for the planet.

Here's the thing.  We write for entertainment, to inform and for a lot of other reasons, and we use a lot of stuff. Stuff that can be recycled, reused, and thoughtfully disposed of. For starters, when drafting your work, use both sides of paper when you need to print. When it's ready to be trashed, recycle that paper. I keep a brown paper bag beside my desk for the paper to keep it separate from the trash. You can also check with friends who happen to work in offices - see if they can give you paper that's been used on only one side. Also volunteer to take old letterhead off their hands.  Some companies throw out literally reams of paper when they change their letterhead. Sometimes you can use both sides, or even if you can use only one because the printed letterhead it's better than seeing it go to a landfill and after that you can recycle it - beside's it's free draft paper!

And speaking of printing, you buy print cartridges, right?  Well, recycle them. Recycle those print cartridges. Frequently the manufacturer will supply a return envelope in the box your cartridge came in. You can also find mailers at places like Pet Smart. So if you have a pet you can not only recycle your old cartridges but you can donate to pets at the same time which can only be a plus.

Or you can have your old cartridges refilled.  Look around your town. Yes, there ARE places where you can have your cartridges refilled. It prolongs the life of those plastic cartridges and saves you money at the same time. And you can still recycle the cartridge later when it's past its prime.

Think about the location of your work space.  If you can, take advantage of sunlight.  Not only is it better for you, but it saves the use of a lamp.  If you do need a lamp, Get daylight, watt-saver bulbs for the lamp on your desk or in your work area. Not only is it better for your eyes, but those bulbs last longer and use less electricity.  A win all the way around.

Some things we use need batteries. Maybe your wireless mouse or some other item in your work-a-day arsenal.  Recycle the batteries for anything you use. I keep a small box in a drawer where I can toss used batteries until I have enough to take to our local transfer station for recycling. If you use rechargables (which, by the way is an even better idea), places like Home Depot and Lowe's offer recycling. Even some local hardware stores do.  Be sure to ask. Sometimes even that old computer needs to go, or some old components. If still usable check with your local school or library and see if those items could be used there (don't forget to wipe your hard drive clean before donating). If the equipment is beyond hope, check with your local electronics store about recycling or your local landfill. Most dumps have designated times when they'll accept things like electronics for recycling.

Consider buying pens that can be refilled instead of the disposable variety. Much less goes into the trash that way. Pencils are good too, instead of pens, if you don't need ink. And you can get mechanical pencils that last a long time needing only lead to refill instead of a wooden pencil. And don't forget to use the pen up.  Unless it blocks or otherwise becomes useless, don't just throw away a half used pen.

Books you no longer use or want? Donate them to libraries, schools or other writer friends. Getting rid of your office chair because you got a new one? Donate old one to Goodwill or other charity - or just another broke writer friend.

It takes a little time to do these things and to seek out other ways to save and recycle, but if you organize and think about it, in the end it isn't much time and it's so worth it.

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