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, March 26, 2007

These Come From Trees in the Enterprise

Like referred to in an earlier post, I started a new position at VMware recently. Well, given the fact that VMware's virtualization products help enterprises consolidate their server farms, which is a huge energy saver, in that each server probably costs about $500 in power to run a year, I figured that the company might be open to some "green" innovation of a less technologically advanced sort.

So I set up a meeting with Wally Hong, VMware's head of real estate and facilities, to brief him on the These Come From Trees project, and see if there was a place for the project in the VMware mix.

Well, the meeting went great. VMware's in the process of building a new campus too, called "Promontory" which Wally shared with me has a goal of being a truly green campus. So I figured that was a great opportunity. It's unclear what is happening at Promontory in terms of paper towel dispensers. If the bathrooms had yet to be outfitted, I encouraged Wally to use the sensor-activated paper towel dispensers, in that the "time out" they have keeps people from being able to pull a bunch of towels in quick succession. However, if they had already outfitted the bathrooms with "old school" dispensers (like in VMware's current building stock), I encouraged him to consider the stickers as a useful retrofit.

I told him about the idea behind the project, inspired by watching people eat at In N Out (mildly creepy, yes), and how it had evolved, and the preliminary results we got from testing at a local coffee shop.

I also encouraged him to pay attention the next time he was in the bathroom at how many paper towels are used per wash. My non-scientific observations have resulted in the same rough average of three towels per washer at VMware as at movie theaters, coffee shops, and restaurants. I have a feeling it really has to do with the ease with which C-fold paper towels can be pulled from the dispenser.

Anyway, we ended the meeting with me giving Wally some stickers, and him saying he would pass along the idea to his report who is in charge of facilities. So we'll see what happens next. I'll be sure to post about it here.

There's a big opportunity, to be sure. Based on what I saw, three paper towels a trip to the restroom, and maybe three trips a day per person, times 250 work days in a year, times 2500 people is 6 million paper towels a year. Wow!

A "pack" of C-fold towels has 175 sheets in it, so we're talking 35k "packs" per year. There are 20 packs in a case, so 1700 cases. Assuming we see a similar reduction of 15% to what we saw in our pilot test, that's 270 cases VMware could save a year.

Each case weighs 20 pounds, so that's around 5k pounds of paper towels. Good lord, that's 2.5 TONS! And based on our rule of thumb that you get 150 pounds of paper out of a tree, VMware could save 35 trees-worth of paper a year by deploying "These Come From Trees" stickers in their restrooms. Pretty cool.

And this is just one company with 2500 employees. If we get some traction at VMware, look out Cisco, Oracle, eBay, Adobe, and Google....!

Anyway, like I said, when I know more, I'll post it here.


terrance said...

I'm doing blog outreach for an exciting project sponsored by Greenpeace and Seventh Generation. I came across your blog in my research and after reading your posts I wanted to include you in my outreach.

The program is called "Change It," and it will bring 200 young people who are committed to protecting the environment to Washington, DC for a week long grassroots educational training to address global warming and other critical issues facing their generation. You can find out more about it at the website: Students can apply to the program at the website as well. The program is open to all legal residents of the U.S. and Canada, ages 18 to 24. The deadline for applications is May 15, 2007.

This year, we not just asking the 200 program participants to make a commitment to changing how we think about and treat our environment. Everyone can do something to change it, and at the Change it website now everyone can commit to what they're going to change to help protect our environment. You can see how other people have promised to change it ( and then tell the world how you're going to change it (

I hope you'll drop by and take a minute to tell us how you're going to change it, and come back to see how others are going to change it too!

psychic17 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike Eberhart said...

Great idea, and I sure hope your efforts results in reduced consumption.

I too love VMWare products for how they let me save energy through reduced physical computers/servers. I'll like VMWare even more if they take some of your environmental suggestions at that new campus :)

Erik Mann said...

different and interesting, keep it up...erik

Dora and Tim said...

I have the same observation at my company...people will take 2 or three paper towels. I don't get why. One usually does the trick.

TAMANNA said...

simlpy superb! much needed and worth an effort. Keep going. All the best.

Anonymous said...

This is great...actually, server consolidation by way of virtualization companies like VMware are really huge right now. You might look at other companies like Sun, HP, Dell, NetApp, and IBM if you're looking for other targets for the sticker program.

Anonymous said...

From the shores of Zuma to the land of monopoly, environment plays the pollution game, focus the Nation, and feed the influenced. Under drunk plans:training thee issues is what we need to do more of!

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