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No more pleas for trees, please

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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?



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