No more pleas for trees, please

I’m a green guy. I recycle, conserve, and set my winter thermostat to must-wear-two-sweater levels. Our environment is fragile and I live accordingly. But, boy, do I hate phony green companies.

Take a look at your latest bill or credit card statement. I’ll bet you that somewhere on each of them is a plea to “Save a Tree! Go paperless!” It’ll probably be accompanied by a graphic of a happy tree (in green ink, of course). One of my credit card statements even goes so far as to say that one tree will be “saved” for every 13 people who go paperless.


All of these phony pleas for trees make it sound like there are evil tree hunters out there, looking high and low for innocent leafy prey. They look like Elmer Fudd, but with maniacal eyes and twirly mustaches. Any day now, one of these miscreants will sneak into your yard. “Look!” he’ll shout to his fellow maple murderers. “There’s one! Kill it; kill it now!” At which point chainsaws start buzzing, the terrible sound worsened only by the painful cries of the tree. When the smoke clears, nothing is left but sad little birds and squirrels with tears rolling from big Disney-animal eyes. Gosh, I’m getting misty just thinking about the results of such terrible carnage.

Look, I love trees. I’d rather be hiking in the woods than doing almost anything else. I use wood daily, and appreciate its beauty. I’m saddened when land is cleared for a parking lot, and happy when a natural area is saved from unnecessary development.

But I’m also not an idiot. Going paperless on your bills will not save a single tree. Not one. Paper is made from trees that are grown specifically for paper. Should everyone someday go paperless, that doesn’t mean those trees can go on living a wonderful life. It means is that those trees aren’t needed, so they simply won’t be planted.

Trees grown for paper have long lives before heading to the paper mill. During those lives they shelter animals, cool the landscape, control erosion, provide food for animals, create mulch and fertilizer when their leaves fall, and not least of all they turn a lot of carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Stop planting those destined-to-be-paper trees and you don’t “save” them; you just kiss all those good things good-bye. The only thing you’ll save by going paperless on your bills is money for whoever it is sending you the bills. They’re being dishonest to claim anything else.

Of course, I’m sure they’ll pass those savings on to us, right?



  1. Ed wrote:


    As soon as they reduce the interest rates or rebate the savings to me, I’ll go paperless. Until then, forgetaboutit!

  2. Mark Slafkes wrote:

    I couldn’t say it any better. I’m disgusted by companies that jump on this bandwagon with absolutely no commitment to actual conservation and, god forbid, commitment to treating their customers with genuine care and concern. All these entreaties do for me is to remind me how dishonest these companies are.

  3. Bill wrote:

    Thank you!
    Even Ducks Unlimited and other organizations to save species make it a an economic advantage to preserve and build limited resources

  4. Bruce Pikas wrote:

    You nailed it.

  5. Bruce Pikas wrote:

    You hit the nail on the head.

  6. Chris Carlson wrote:

    AJ, I agree that we are not cutting old-growth forests here. However, I think it helps to reduce all types of unnecessary consumption which generates waste from processing and even recycling of extra materials. And helping companies control costs is a good thing if it doesn’t negatively affect their customers. Personally, I find E bills much more convenient and easier to track.

  7. Gregory Semenchuk wrote:

    Andy Rooney lives>

  8. Michael Smith wrote:

    I agree with you AJ. Besides the waste of buying computers, re-buying when they die, maintaining them, all the hazardous material in a computer, and this is an off the cuff list. How much will it cost me and the environment to save that company a stamp??? These people think like a certain political party.

  9. Steven Wigfield wrote:

    I want to tell all of the companies asking me to go paperless that I will, as soon as they stop sending me an endless stream of ads through the mail.

  10. Keith Mealy wrote:

    I also hate the companies that promote “natural” products, no chemicals.

    Since a chemical is anything that has mass and occupies space, I presume that means pure vacuum, radiation (including visible light), and various other forms of energy?

    Or as my M.D. son-in-law says, “All natural and organic? So is heroin and cocaine.”

  11. Chuck Riccardo wrote:

    Brilliant! I wish I had thought of that!

  12. John Gresko wrote:

    Green will never overcome greed. Unfortunately greed in now full of green. That will never change.

  13. Ann wrote:

    Right on, AJ. Too bad I’ve gone semipaperless and helped put the Postal Service on the skids. Will think twice hereafter.

  14. Paul Coords wrote:

    I can not stand the GREENIES either. You got it right, but now hard enough. The head of the movement had built himself a log home. That saved a lot of trees! I moved down here to the Ozarks to get away from them and found they were already here.If I can, I will not do business with them who claim to be Greenies. A bunch of air heads.

  15. Jeff wrote:

    Finally an environmentalist with Common $ence that thinks like I do!

  16. A.J. Hamler wrote:

    Paul– Trouble is, you have to be careful when painting the color Green with such a wide brush. I consider myself to be very Green, but I’m also very practical. As Chris notes up in the comments, opposing waste isn’t a bad thing, and unnecessary consumption is just what the words mean, no more and no less– if the consumption is necessary, it isn’t waste. It’s possible to be Green, and I’m pleased to consider myself so, but I’m not an airhead.

    A knucklehead, sometimes, but not an airhead.


  17. michael michalofsky wrote:

    aj bravo
    well said

  18. Charles Wesley Orton wrote:

    I agree with you.

    Something you didn’t mention, and what I’ve been wondering since seeing the same equation on my credit card bill is this: How did someone come up with that equation? If only 13 credit-card bills equals one tree, it must be a very small tree. A bonsai, perhaps? Didn’t know they used those for pulpwood.


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