These Come From Trees Sticker

These Come From Trees Sticker
This is the sticker we're hoping can save a couple hundred thousand trees a year. Amazing how the right message at the right time can make the difference.

Quick Facts about "These Come From Trees"

Monday, February 19, 2007

These Come From Trees Elevator Pitch


If you're here, you may have heard about this on the web, seen a sticker in a coffee shop / restaurant near you, or just might be a friend or family member of our dear Pete.

So, for those who don't know, the These Come From Trees concept was originated while having lunch at In N Out, that bastion of tasty burgers. The way that In N Out works, you order your food, wait for it to be made, grab it when your order is called, and then head on over to the ketchup and napkin dispensing island. Well, the thing is, because the ketchup and the napkins are centrally located, and you don't want to have to get back up to get more, you typically end up taking more than you really need.

Now, usually that sort of thing would just go without saying. But when I was at In N Out, looking around, I couldn't help but notice the napkins. Everywhere. Stacks of napkins on people's tables, out of which one or two would get used during the course of the meal. But here's the catch: when people are done, they don't leave the napkins. I think anyone would agree that the idea of using some random napkins on your table when you sit down would be rather, um, icky. So most of the people, as I watched, did the conscientious thing to reset the table to its base state for the next group, which means scooping up that stack of unused napkins, putting them on the tray with the other trash, and into the garbage they go!

This was amazing to me. Here we all were, me too, going about our business, not really thinking about the impact of our actions because, in this case, the resource was "free" to use.

Further, this wasn't an example of someone calling into question whether the use or misuse of a resource was "justified." This wasn't the same as someone saying "Wow, you shouldn't drive that Hummer, because you have no use for it" or making some other value judgment. Any reasonable person, when asked "should unused paper goods be thrown into the trash" would probably look at you sideways before saying, "Duh, no Pete."

That's what was amazing about this situation. If actually made to think of about these actions, everyone would be in agreement. I think if you asked anyone in there dumping napkin after napkin into the trash if they cared about conservation and the wise use of resources, we'd all say "yes." Of course we would. It was just that the thought process to intervene wasn't immediate, and internalized. But maybe there was a way that it could be.

I was truly curious how pervasive this problem was, and if there was a way we could all just "snap out of it" at the moment of consumption, and somehow reduce our waste. As I started noodling on it, I resolved to research how extended this problem was, and put my mind towards seeing if there were any good ways to deal with it.

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