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Environmental Hypocrisy

by Ted Mooney

April 29, 1999

Some years ago, regional water shortages became more commonplace, and restaurants jumped at the idea of only serving water when specifically asked. They never mentioned that this saved them money; rather, their menu inserts solemnly wrote of their desire to do this out of a deep abiding love for the environment.

More recently, motels too became deeply and solemnly concerned, and determined that washing guest linens less frequently would be the sacrament they would partake of in their selfless mission to save the earth.

Motivation aside, at least there was some potential environmental benefit.

On to the present. We all get monthly bills from the phone company and credit card companies, and many of them are asking us to mark a checkbox if we want our bills printed on both sides of the paper, so that we can together save the environment. Lots of us are marking the checkbox. But by some foul coincidence the envelopes are fat as ever. Enter, stage left, that modern miracle, the "inserter".

As your freshly printed bill flies along the conveyor belt faster than the eye can see, the inserter weighs it in transit. See, it costs $.243 in postage to mail a bill, and for that $.243 they can mail up to one ounce. Deducting from the one ounce limit the newly-reduced weight of your double-sided bill, the miracle device packs your envelope with however many promotional inserts will fit within a microgram of the weight limit.

The hand is quicker than the eye, the inserter is quicker than the mind. How many trees was it again that they promised to save?


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