Friday, January 14, 2011

New U.S. Congress May End Mandatory Daily Printing of Legislative Bills

Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, reported yesterday that Representative Chris Lee, a Republican from New York, has introduced legislation that would end the mandatory printing of legislative bills by the Government Printing Office (GPO).

This legislation, if enacted, could save the government between $25 and $35 million dollars over the next decade.  And by eliminating the redundancy of automatically having the bills published online, and in print, it would significantly help reduce the daily environmental footprint of the Congress.

The Government Printing Office serves a vital role to the functions of Congress, but there are many common sense opportunities, such as this, to use resources more efficiently.

Currently, according to long-standing practice, the GPO ensures that each sponsor and co-sponsor of every bill receives at least 5 hard copies of proposed legislation, regardless of the bill's length.  Copies are also delivered to the committee responsible for the bill.

From the article,

"Lee likened the process to the infamous Congressional ice-bucket tradition. Offices used to receive buckets of ice each morning, an unquestioned practice that started “before the advent of the refrigerator” and continued, “although unnecessary” until 1994, Lee said.
“This is the next ice bucket,” he said."
Government leadership on the issue of paper use efficiency is to be welcomed.  It is very intentionally the first pillar of Environmental Paper Network's Common Vision, a roadmap to sustainability in paper production and consumption with broad endorsement.  Many leading corporations are realizing the necessity and benefits as well, such as Sprint, who just announced an ambitious goal to reduce paper use by 30%.   For some good ideas on paper use efficiency and more case studies, download a fact sheet here.

Let's hope that efforts such are these are carefully considered in order to maintain the transparency essential to open government, and embraced and expanded by the new Congress.  

What do you think about this proposal?

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

4th Grader vs. The Goliaths of the Fast Food Industry

Meet Cole Rasenberger, the 10 year old working to protect North Carolina's coastal forests and its wildlife from being devastated by the production of throwaway fast food packaging.

Cole is using money he recently won from a youth action award to "double-down" on his efforts, print more postcards, and fly to Louisville and personally deliver hundreds of them signed by kids in North Carolina, to Yum Brands/KFC.

"My teacher always said....young people do have a voice."

Monday, January 03, 2011

Research: Protected Tree Found in Paper from Indonesia

The Jakarta Post reports that a laboratory study of books purchased in the United States, and originating in Indonesia, has found that some contain the protected Ramin tree. Ramin trees have been protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) since 2003. And the Indonesian government has banned all exports of ramin products.

The study was completed by the World Resources Institute and included in a new report by Greenomics Indonesia titled, Surprise, But No Surprise: Protected Tree Species Find Their Way Into Indonesia Pulp and Paper Products.

The Executive Summary begins,

The recent finding by the World Resources Institute (WRI) that Indonesian pulp and paper products exported to the United States contain Ramin fibers, a protected tree species, means that all  those who produce, handle and trade in such products are liable to criminal sanctions under the United States' Lacey Act.
What's in YOUR paper?