Update: Toshiba pulled the plug on its campaign. See 9 Lessons from Toshiba's No-Print Day Debacle for the full story.
In a stunning display of greenwashing and ignorance, a U.S. branch of Toshiba has proclaimed October 23 National No-Print Day.
To raise awareness “of the impact printing has on our planet” and of "the role of paper in the workplace,” Toshiba America Business Solutions is asking people and companies not to print or copy anything that day.
"We know that approximately 336,000,000 sheets of paper are wasted daily -- that's more than 40,000 trees discarded every day in America,” Bill Melo, a Toshiba America vice president, said this week in announcing the effort.
The company is promoting the campaign with a series of web videos featuring Tree, an “affable spokescharacter” and alleged Toshiba employee. Viewers are asked to sign a pledge to give Tree “and his leafy colleagues” the day off.
The first video has a goof: Tree is shown marking Oct. 23 on a paper calendar. (Dude, that could be your cousin you’re writing on.) But even more serious are the questions Toshiba needs to answer, such as:
- What is the source of that statistic about 336 million sheets of paper wasted every day, and what exactly do you mean by “wasted”?
- According to that statistic, one tree is “discarded” for every 8300 sheets -- less than 90 pounds of office paper -- that is "wasted". But only one-third of that 90 pounds comes from whole trees; the rest is from sawmill residue and recycled fiber. What idiot is getting a yield of only 30 pounds of paper from an entire tree?
- Paper is made mostly from renewable resources and has a high recycling rate. Ink and toner cartridges, including those with the Toshiba brand, are made mostly from non-renewable resources and are not often recycled. Have you considered that much of printing’s impact on our planet has nothing to do with paper usage?
- Why is it necessarily better for the planet to read a report on an electricity-burning computer than on sheets of paper?
- You promise to plant some trees if we take the pledge. Will Toshiba actually plant the trees, or are you paying someone else to plant them? Where will the trees be planted? What will happen to the land if no one takes the pledge?
- You imply that the harvesting of trees is inherently evil. If private landowners can no longer make money from trees, they’ll seek other uses of their land. Would it be better if they planted wheat? Or maybe shopping centers?
- American farmers “discard” far more than 40,000 corn plants every day in the process of harvesting them. Are you going to organize a No Corn, Ethanol, or Grain-Fed Meat Day?
- Toshiba makes a variety of electronic products. Are you planning to celebrate a No-Toxic-Materials-in-Laptops Day?
- If we take the pledge to give Tree a day off, how are we supposed to blow our noses on Oct. 23? And will Toshiba America offices remove the toilet paper from their restrooms that day?
- Why the hell did Toshiba just exhibit at Drupa, the world’s largest trade fair for printers, if one of its divisions was going to turn around and publicly trash the entire printing industry?