Think of the Trees!

Have you ever received an email where the sender included something like the following at the end of their signature?

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

I just got one like this, with the cute little webdings "P" (a tree with a... river?), and instead of green, it had me seeing red. It says to me, in effect, "I, the sender of this email, am an unthinking, dogmatic, idiot." Probably not what was intended, eh?

It also says to me that the sender has a tragically wrong view of values. She places intrinsic value on "the environment" wholly apart from the valuers -- humans. Sure, I'm making assumptions about a person based on their email signature, but if she puts her ideology out there like that, why shouldn't I? The woman just told me that I should think, not about my values, my ease or comfort in reading what she wrote, but instead I should be concerned with the impact of one sheet of paper and some ink on "the environment."

To this, I say "to hell with you!" I'll print the damn thing out five million times if it fits my needs.

I think I'll begin including a variation of this signature on my own emails:

Please consider using reason and your own independent judgment regarding the printing of this email. If it fits your needs, print a forest's worth. The environment be damned!


Monica said...


In any case, the idea that we can avoid paper consumption to save trees is completely wrongheaded (and I don't care about "saving trees" anyway. This sends the message that the types of species we are cutting for timber and paper are in danger, which is demonstrably false). Paper is a byproduct of harvesting for timber, so it just doesn't matter that much whether we print more, recycle more, etc. It won't stop the supply. Have they considered what will happen to the smaller branches used to make paper when the larger timber is needed for building materials? It would just be left there in the forest.

C. August said...

There you go with your "logic" and your "reasons."

By the environmentalist's "reasoning," we shouldn't be cutting down trees for building materials either.

The earth is an inherent value unto itself, and any encroachment upon its pristine nature by the evil humans is an abomination.

The unthinking bozo who adds that email signature doesn't get that explicit, and would probably recoil at my statements, saying "well, I didn't mean THAT! You're going too far!" But we know the principles implicit in her stupid catchphrases.

Anonymous said...

Similar notations on my incoming e-mail discourage printing in order to reduce our carbon footprint. I’ve been pondering a simple response to that plea, but haven’t yet come up with a one-liner that says anything more than “to hell with you.”

Unfortunately, these pleas come predominantly from people I know to be simply ill-informed but good-intentioned. Any direct counter-comment I might make would not change minds, and most likely be taken as an insult. Depending on the relationship to the sender, that could be tricky.

If the point here is to discourage the unthinking from routinely including these obnoxious notes on their e-mails, perhaps an effective tactic would be to alert the sender that their note is controversial and they could be unintentionally offending people. If that opens a dialogue, it would create an opportunity for rational persuasion.

khartoum said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

I believe that some companies automatically add that line, or something like it, to the bottom of all outgoing emails as corporate policy. It just like the "this message is confidential. Please destroy it if you are not the intended recipient" footer. The email sender has nothing to do with it and may not even realize it's there. (How's that for not allowing for individual thought?) And other places, if it's not done by the folks in IT, it's required by "management" that the line is included in their branded signatures. I don't print many of my emails because I don't want the clutter on my desk. Don't let that be confused with an environmental statement!

C. August said...

Anon 2/23/09: Yes, I suppose there are some companies that do this, but I was specifically referring to individuals who make the choice themselves. It's easy to tell whether it was their own bright idea or not, especially when you work with them.

Debra Mennins said...

Reading between the lines, the email you received came from a co-worker that may or may not be a person that can think an original thought. I think that bandwagon jumpers are lemmings that need to do some waste management services, we all win in the end.