This week, I won a new bike. It was the first prize in a contest held by Easy Green Exeter, an organization that tries to make green living a little bit easier for people in and around Exeter. The goal of the competition was to implement an idea to make your work or home more environmentally friendly. My idea was to put up signs with visual instructions on how to double print on the printers in my building. Basically, every printer is a different model, and has a different maze of menus to double print. So I took screen shots of as many as I had access to, printed them out with written directions, and attached the signs to the printers themselves. Our building goes through hundreds, maybe thousands of reams of paper every year, so this could be quite a lot of paper saved. Signs are up on the three main busiest printers so far, (the ones I have access to) and signs will be going up on the few remaining ancillary ones, as people with access to them send me screen shots of the menus.
It's often found in the conservation psychology research that no amount of persuasion or cajoling to conserve does as much good as simply removing simple physical barriers. Local governments that collect mixed recyclables will do better than those that spend on big persuasion campaigns yet require citizens to sort their recyclables. Even whether people are provided a free recycling box or asked to find one of their own has a huge effect on recycling rates. Likewise, simplifying a complicated printing menu can potentially save many more trees than expending greater efforts in persuasion and awareness raising but without demystifying how to actually navigate the menus.
I received the bike at a mini-awards-thingie on Thursday, presented by the head of recycling for Exeter Council. It will be very useful, as currently I am walking 5 miles a day to and from work (yeah, bus prices went up 57% in a year - the exercise is good though.) There should be a story about it in the next edition of the Exeter Citizen.
Here is a picture of me on my new bike:
Well, ok, but everything besides the picture is true.