Friday, January 06, 2006

How to make a Pencil Revolutionary out of an Environmentalist: Part I

Recently John at PRevo forwarded a question from a fellow Pencil Revolutionary that he felt might better be answered by me. The question: “What arguments would one use to convince an environmentalist to use wood cased pencils?”

Initially, I couldn’t resist offering a quick, sarcastic and typically glib “industry think” response by questioning the lack of common sense in the decision making skills of the stereotypical environmentalist. Who can’t see that the use of a well managed, renewable resource is favored over writing instrument casings from alternate materials derived from petroleum based plastics or metallic compounds which involve mining? This of course assumes the Environmentalist chooses to use a hand held writing instrument as opposed to some alternate method of recording and communicating information. This would complicate comparing environmental trade-offs so for the purposes of simplification I’ll assume we’re discussing choosing among alternative writing instruments.

I’ll also overlook the implication in the question that papermaking seems not to be an offensive use of trees (since you have to write on something) while somehow use of a wood cased pencil may be perceived more damaging by some. Given the amount of paper consumption generated by legal proceedings driven by environmentalist appeals of timber harvest plans this is probably a reasonable simplification of the matter.

Of added concern before answering such a question is to define the context of what an environmentalist is, since I need to know who it is I’m trying to convince. Are we referring to the environmentalus rabidus extremus subspecies who views timber harvesting as an affront to all forms of life on earth. For example, someone who might also be a member of PETA an organization that is now even attacking fishing as an activity that causes pain to fish.

Or instead are we more concerned with the evironmnetalus commonus citizenus subspecies. Here we see less on an activist, one who simply wants to be sure their consumption decisions are not overly harmful to the environment. Someone who might purchase a small car or a hybrid SUV over a Hummer or be concerned about forest practices so that the water quality supports fish and other habitat and has no objection to and may even participate in fishing or hunting activity.

For a little help I went to Merriam-Webster for the following clarification.

en·vi·ron·men·tal·ist 1 : an advocate of environmentalism2 : one concerned about environmental quality especially of the human environment with respect to the control of pollution
: advocacy of the preservation or improvement of the natural environment; especially : the movement to control pollution

This definition seems fairly benign and can be generalized to imply that just about anyone with a concern for environmental preservation is an environmentalist. However given the use of activist word of advocacy and I’m up for the tougher challenge I’ll try to go from the standpoint that we’re dealing with the rabidus extremus variety. Now that this is all worked out, I’ll start building my case.

More to come later in Part 2


Anonymous said...

I love your blog. But saying that the average environmentalist lacks "common sense" is just not true and sounds a little vindictive. Many of us are perfectly reasonable are not of the extremist variety. In fact, most of us environmentalists don't like being grouped in with the nut jobs.

Pencil Revolution said...

Maybe the nutjobs should be grouped together, with their different types:
1) Environmental
2) Religious
3) Social/Political
4) Etc.

As a moderate environmentalist myself (I recycle and don't drive, but I suppose I don't think very hard about the plastics and such in the things I buy, or what goes into making them), it is troubling that some really crazy people give us all a bad name:) But there are some nice groups who are devoted to enjoying the planet as much as saving it, like the Sierra Club.

I've talked to some devotedly religious folks who think the same thing about gigantically judgmental zealots and their bunch. All religious people get grouped in with them.

But I think it's important to note the differentiation that Woodchuck is making at the end of his post between extreme environmentalists and casual treehuggers like me;).

Not that extreme means nutjob. Some of the more reasonable environmentalists I've met are a little extreme. I know at least one hypocritical, stubborn and unreasonable person who calls herself an environmentalist, and she's less extreme than I am;)

WoodChuck said...

Anonymous -
Sorry you took offense at that which was intended to be a more commical point on the "typical wood products industry" view point on environmental activists. Both sides of the ongoing argument have long histories of being very fixed in their positions.

I think that you will see from future posts (Part 2 posting tonight) on this topic I actually am fairly respectful of the issues and concerns expressed by environmentalists. In many respects I share good parts of these views myself. If not our company would not have been the first company in the world to introduce FSC certified pencils 7 or 8 years ago with our ForestChoice product.

Anonymous said...

I was not offended, Chuck :-)