Sunday, March 30, 2008

Please DO NOT print this page for your records.

College Math Papers
Originally uploaded by sweetpea.loty30

Maybe nobody actually does this anyway, but it really irritates me how everytime you order something or register with a site online, there is some sort of order confirmation number that comes up on a screen, almost always with a note asking you to "please print this page for your records." I know this is a rather small thing in the big picture, but I do believe that small things add up.

I understand that if you've ordered something, you may need to have a way to refer to yourself at a later time. Most companies you do business with (perhaps unfortunately, but that's the way it is) won't know who you are if you call up and say, "Hi, my name's Melissa and I ordered something last week." I get that. But why on earth do I need to keep a full page written record of the information the company will use to find me if my order gets lost in the mail?

My simple solution to 1. save money (by saving paper, toner, and electricity from not running the printer), 2. be more green (for same reasons just mentioned) and 3. being more organized (by not having another piece of paper to file and later remember to throw out) is that I have one word document on my computer called "confirmations". When somebody asks me to print something for my records, I instead hit 'control a' to highlight the text on the page, 'control c' to copy the text in the page, then I go into my word document and hit 'control v' to paste the text into the page.

I am going to make a point to try to contact each business that I interact with if I see the "print this page" message and request them to replace it with a "make a note of this confirmation number" message.

Certainly confirmation numbers aren't the only thing that get wastefully printed. Thanks to one cool brother I now have a GPS for my car so I don't need to print directions anymore. I will admit, however, to printing out directions on more than one occasion, when in retrospect, it really wouldn't have been much more difficult to just write them down (on a much smaller piece of scrap paper) after looking them up. One additional thing I've done to make myself think more carefully about the things that I print is to disconnect the cord that connects the printer to the computer. That way, I have to think about it a little more than just to the point where I hit the "print" button. Kudos to my bank too (whatever their motivation) for now asking you whether you want a printed receipt when you make transactions at the ATM.

This is not to say I never print anything. I do (like tax returns...) but I am trying to make it a conscious choice rather than something I do automatically because a website tells me to. That, really, is the underlying goal of this whole process for me: to start being more conscious of the choices I make.

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