I have to start this post by saying that I hate to waste paper which kills trees, but I also hate to waste resources for which I have already paid. If there is some way to benefit, even at a reduced value level, I try to not waste green paper either. I was thinking about this today when writing a note on the back of a business card. The front of that card contained the name of a departed employee (this specific one resigned a couple of years earlier). A business card is one of the first cash investments we make in new hires. That, and their first paychecks. Anyway, it is always something urgent for me to do when new employees are hired so that, when they work with clients, they can always be ready to distribute their cards. Other posts have addressed the proper use of business cards, but suffice it to say, I think business cards are important. Thus, the cards are ordered soon after an employee is hired. Some employees, sadly, do not stay employed with us long enough to exhaust their supply of cards. I don’t mean to make light of turnover. Some of it happens because the employee moves on by resigning; other employees leave because they are terminated. And, few of our employees, even those with a long tenure, distribute enough cards to need a resupply because few of them are in positions like sales which might require greater numbers of cards. The bottom line is, when employees leave, there is almost always a supply of cards, that, rather than recycling, I use for quick notes and I keep a supply handy at my desk. Similarly, there are other ways I “recycle” materials, by making notepads from outdated letterhead. But, with the business cards, the unique difference is that there is a name on it. And, sometimes when I turn the card over, and see the name, it brings back memories of that employee, good or bad. Some bring smiles and fond memories. Other cards make me wish I’d never hired them. I don’t mean any disrespect, but it just works out that way. But, in all, good or bad, my penchant for not wasting trees means that, at some point, all former employees become connected to scrap paper.
My mom was the first recycling aficionado I knew. She was also fond of the expression that something was “not worth the paper it was printed on.” I guess the paper referenced in her expression is money, meaning that whatever Mom was disparaging was, in her opinion, worthless. I would not go as far as describing some of Magnus’ former employees as worthless, but I will say I wish David had never ordered business cards for some of them. Although I am environmentally conscious, including being a dues paying member of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, I do not share David’s penchant for using former employees’ business cards as notepaper. For one thing, business cards are too small for me to write on; my handwriting is in a larger font than David’s. I am in favor of all the other ways in which our office recycles paper, including printing drafts of reports and charts on the back side of used paper. It is interesting to me that David reads the name of the former employee upon using his/her business card to write a note, leading him to reminisce about this person. I am becoming increasingly paperless, to the point I use the “notes” part of my phone to write reminders to myself. For me, not having to recall negative experiences with employees is more valuable than recycling. This is one of many examples of things about which David and I are vastly different!