Speaking for the Trees

As you head into the Lorax movie, you may not realize you are in for far more than an hour and a half of popcorn, children’s laughter and the gravelly voice of Danny DeVito as one of Dr. Seuss’ most lovable characters. But as you walk out, you’ll feel invigorated by the bright colors and catchy tunes, and the theme will refresh your desire to do your part in saving the planet.

If you’re not familiar, the Lorax is a creature of Dr. Seuss’ imagination that is “shortish and oldish and brownish and mossy” who “speaks for the trees.”  The 1971 book serves as a crusade against deforestation and industrialization.   As the fluffy Truffula trees are hewn down to mass produce thneeds, the Lorax laments the disastrous environmental effects as he evacuates the brown bar-ba-loots, swomee-swans, and humming-fish.

When Hewlett-Packard heard that the classic tale would be coming to life in animation, they signed on as sponsors.  HP has been producing an environmental scorecard since 1957 and found the deforestation theme to be a natural fit for their paper-dependent products.  To help educate customers on how they can help, HP created the website Print Like The Lorax.”  The site outlines three easy steps that will help consumers reduce their own carbon footprint.  By recycling ink cartridges, using smart paper, and taking advantage of the double-sided and auto power down features, consumers can enjoy all the convenience of the modern world while preserving their natural one.

At a forum held last week alongside Seventh Generation, the World Wildlife Fund and the Forest Stewardship Council, HP’s Jeff Walter expounded on the site and outlined how recycling and sustainability efforts should be viewed as a win-win-win.

Because of their vast research and development in the environment and sustainability sector, HP has been able to produce products that use 20 percent less energy.  This in turn lowers the utility bill of their consumers.  The built-in option on all HP printers to print double-sided has the potential to decrease paper use by one-third.  A third less paper used and created means a third more forest remains in tact.

“We’re working toward ensuring customers can do what they need to do in a sustainable way,” Walter said.

The panel was unanimous that the biggest hurdle today in improving sustainability efforts is the everyday American.  Corporations have taken a look at the bigger picture and are rushing to change their ways, but customers are lagging on purchasing these items and buying into the goal.  As a company that creates green cleaning products, Seventh Generation’s Chris Miller is constantly facing the challenge of educating consumers on why sustainability matters.  But he remains optimistic overall.

“We’ve become exceptionally good at being less bad,” Miller said.  “These products are becoming more and more popular with mainstream consumers.” 

It is up to companies like HP and Seventh Generation to continue to work on solutions that benefit the environment, the consumer, and the economy.  But it is up to the customer to recognize that benefit.  It takes everyone to make the difference we need; we must all speak for the trees.  As Dr. Seuss says, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

Public Policy Tags: Intelligent Efficiency