Simple solutions are, well, simple

The City of Asheville has made a little progress toward reducing its carbon footprint. The stated goal since 2007 has been to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050, with a target reduction of 2 percent per year.

That’s a fine start, but it’s nowhere near enough to achieve the reductions necessary to combat global warming according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We need to do more, sooner. Much more. Much sooner.

One simple way to reduce the damage done by our local government is to cut way back on paper use. While the current policy is to “encourage” the use of recycled paper products, we need to mandate that purchasing policy. Paper comprises the biggest portion of our landfill waste and non-recycled paper is responsible for a major proportion of deforestation. Cutting trees does just as much damage as emitting more carbon, because trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

Even recycled toilet paper can make a huge impact. Greenpeace has calculated that if every family in America bought just ONE roll of TP made from recycled paper per year it would save 400,000 trees annually.

Cutting paper waste works as well. I noticed at the City Council annual retreat in January that every city staffer in attendance received a bound, printed, full color booklet about 20 or 25 pages in length, with all of the reports, charts and graphs that were to be discussed during the event. Many of the staffers had them open on top of the laptop computers they’d brought along. Why, oh why, was a printed document necessary? The charts and graphs and reports were all generated on computers in the first place, and today the printed documents are almost certainly in either filing cabinets or the recycle bin (or, the landfill, tsk). That was a complete waste of paper, and I have seen the same process used at meeting after meeting.

Paperless office, anyone?


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