Low plastic? Shop on campus

I was in Athens, Georgia last weekend for a University of Georgia alumni event. One fun thing about being in a college town is shopping for items unavailable elsewhere. (Metro D.C. is — what? — thirty times the size, but it’s easier to get beer-making supplies in Athens, for instance.)

One such product line is green office supplies, or rather school supplies. I was taken with the recycled paper blue books — dubbed and colored as “green books” — plus recycled-plastic-content pens (I prefer my fountain pen) and corrugated-cardboard ring binders. There was even a aluminum-cased USB stick in all-cardboard packaging. Other things — one I bought and will describe later — too.

Some were marginally more than their non-recycled-content companions; others, like that USB stick, were quite a bit more. Bit it’s nice to have the options and I saw it at every bookstore I visited.

Low plastic office: Hollinger boxes

A truly paperless office, even if desirable, is very hard to organize. Paper is just too useful a product and paper printed quickly becomes paper stored. There are many metal filing tools for those who want to avoid plastic, but these are often packed in plastic or are simply too large or unwieldy for the task.

For this middle ground, I like the cool aesthetics and fiber and metal construction of Hollinger boxes. To me, they’re the visual language of archives, and thus research and storage. They even have boxes for human remains — think archaeology — so one might also be my final, er, storage place.

Until then, I keep manila folders full of files in flip-top boxes. Attractive enough to keep out, and no plastic. I keep rare books and papers in a lidded variety. I’ve had mine for years, but I recall them being shipped in cardboard cartons with kraft paper packing. (And D.C.-ites, one of their two factories is in Fredericksburg, Va. Loco-storage?)

Order them online here.

Getting rid of phone books

Today, NPR had a segment (“The Phone Book’s Days Appear Numbered”) about a California bill to make white page directories opt-in, the problems associated with their production and disposal and about the overall decline of the utility of phonebooks. (These are, of course, mostly paper — a valuable resource in its own right — but sometimes they’ve wrapped in plastic.)

A phone book trade group obviously sensing pressure — other state bill have failed, but for how long I wonder — have created an opt-out service. Not so useful, but worth promoting if your goal is to reduce useless giveaways. (Catalog Choice is another.)

Go to www.yellowpagesoptout.com for details.