Monday, December 24, 2007

Saving the environment, the dumb way

This caught my eye in the Christmas Eve Gazette:

Meanwhile, at Hastings, Vizedom, with the help of employee Povinelli, had decided to go with the computer paper made from recycled paper for $5.95 over the regular brand for $5.45.

"The environment is definitely worth an extra 45 cents," she said.
Carbon offsets cost about $5.00 per ton, so would the environment be better off if Ms. Vizedom pays extra for recycled paper, or buys cheap paper and spends the extra money on carbon offsets? (assuming that you buy into the notion that buying carbon offsets is a good thing)

45 cents buys about 180 pounds of carbon offsets. Which is 9 gallons of gasoline worth of CO2. I'd buy the cheaper paper.

Maybe that's not the right way of looking at it. What if she saved the 45 cents and used it to buy a tree through the Arbor Day Foundation? They'll plant a tree in a National Forest for $6, so she could buy 1/14'th of a tree. Since you get more than 100 reams of paper from an average tree, we'd end up with more trees overall if everybody did that instead of spending extra on recycled paper.

Buy the cheap paper. Then find an environmental charity you like and give it all the money you save.

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