During the workday, many interoffice emails arrive in my inbox with this message at the bottom: "Please consider the environment before choosing to print this email." There must have been a company-wide campaign at some point before I arrived; I don't have the banner, but it seems like most people do. And bless them for it. Of course, I've never had a printer of my own -- in college I had to go to the computer cluster to print anything at all, and although, in theory, I now have access to the husband's, in reality we can't get my laptop to make friends with it -- so it really never occurs to me to print out an email. That means, in my case, the banner has the opposite effect; instead of considering the environment, I find myself elated by the idea that I could easily create a paper copy of this particular message if I so desired.
But that's not the irony I want to share with you. You see, this consciousness-raising banner doesn't just appear onscreen; it shows up at the bottom of the page if you decide to go ahead and hit "print." I suppose that increases its effectiveness -- every hard copy is stamped with a reminder that you chose to prioritize its contents, and your convenience, over the welfare of Mother Earth. But sometimes, that little inch-high banner is enough to push the printout onto a second (or third, or fifth) page. And so, right now, on my desk, I have a piece of paper -- the final page of an email I chose to print -- that is completely blank, except for the "consider the environment" warning against wastefulness. I believe this is what the folks at FAIL Blog might call an "Environmentalism Fail."
And now for a message from our sponsors: If you enjoy workplace irony, please drop everything you have planned for the day and go buy Personal Days, the wondrously funny and unsettling new novel by friend-of-Restricted View Ed Park. I thought The New Yorker's writeup described it particularly well, and that will have to do for the moment, as I am going to be late for my own job if I don't leave now.
In other office-culture news: Aren't you glad you don't work with the author of this note? She wants you to think she has a sense of humor, but I'm pretty sure she wouldn't enjoy Personal Days at all.