The November election is barely 10 weeks away and San Diego County residents will have a LOT of decisions to make. Not just the big one about who will be our next American President, but about legalizing marijuana, changing the way local elections work, and whether we want to help build a new stadium/convention center downtown for the San Diego Chargers.
There are so many decisions and so much information for voters, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters will send City of San Diego residents not just one but TWO ballot pamphlets, each more than 100 pages long. Only the fall fashion magazines have more pages (so I am told).
In the 2014 election cycle, the Registrar mailed three million pamphlets to voters, adding up to 281 tons of paper. The ballot had far fewer pages, so imagine the amount of paper being used this election cycle.
I believe voters need access to information, but we don’t have to kill a lot of trees to do it. All voters in San Diego County have the option of requesting an electronic version of the sample ballot. The Registrar of Voters makes it easy to do.
Visit the website sdvote.com. Look on the home page under “Popular Services” at the right, and the Registrar has a link right at the top “Sample Ballot Pamphlet Opt Out / Opt In.” You will need to provide a few simple bits of information. It will help to have your drivers’ license or ID on hand. It won’t take more than 60 seconds, I promise. This is all you have to do.
From my viewpoint as an Eco-Warrior, I’m happy we get this option to reduce the amount of paper we produce from trees. From my perspective as a taxpayer, I’m happy to do my part to reduce the cost of printing and mailing these massive documents when it’s not necessary. And it’s easy!
If even half the voters opted to get an electronic sample ballot, it could save a substantial amount of money. Perhaps it would be enough to fill a few potholes, keep a library open a little longer, or buy new firefighting equipment.
Please help spread the word by sharing and posting this information. I didn’t know about this before, and I bet most of your friends, family and neighbors didn’t know about it either.
Why not take one more paper saving step? Not long after the election, or maybe even before the election, those holiday season catalogs will start stuffing your mailbox. You can do better than tossing them into the recycling bin. Check the company’s website and ask to have the paper version stopped in favor of an electronic version. Then put your name on the Direct Marketing Association’s roster to opt out of direct mail lists.
Saving paper is one of the easiest ways to reduce our impact on the environment. By now you should be doing all the basics: not printing out documents unless you absolutely must, using both sides of the paper, paying bills online. We’ve got a few more tips that might be new to you.
Many stores will now send your receipt to you by email, such as Nordstrom (thank you!). Not only does it save paper, but you can put receipts in a folder on your computer and if you need to return an item or hold on to a gift receipt, you’ll have them organized and right where you can easily find them.
When you are formatting a document that you need to print, consider filling up as much of the space on the paper as possible. Use a smaller font size, larger margins, whatever you can do to put more text on a page without making it too difficult to read. Can you get a three page document onto two pages? If you have to print ten copies to hand out, you’ve just saved a third of the paper, 10 pages.
Consider buying used books. Even though a lot of people use e-readers like a Kindle, some people (me!) still prefer reading a printed on paper book. Start by buying used textbooks if you’re a student. They can be a cheaper option as well as the environmentally friendly one. Hit up your favorite thrift store for reading material. If you haven’t read “Gone Girl” or the latest from Grisham, Patterson, or Binchy, you’ll have plenty of good choices.
Check your junk mail for usable paper. Why it is that junk mail seems to leave so much paper blank? Use it for scratch paper, notes, or a shopping list.
Every year, 71 million tons of paper products are used in the United States. Thanks to technology, a thrifty attitude and better awareness, saving paper is easier than ever before. Whatever your political point of view, this is a platform everyone can support.
I’m Jim Mumford the Eco-Warrior, and I approved this green message!