Addressing the real problem (Day 273)…


I need to start keeping an address book. For months now, I’ve desperately wanted to get a Moleskine because all the cool kids have them and I want to hang out with the cool kids. But, with their bleached paper and oilcloth or leather-bound covers, plus the pen and ink required to write everything down, I just feel it’s not a very eco-friendly purchase.

So until Day 366, I’m going to keep all my addresses in a text file on my computer, and back up the file on my handy thumb drive.

In this technologically advanced age of Interwebs and bit-torrents and paperless offices (I’m hoping to one day make the National Post an office-less paper, too, because commuting all the way to the suburbs is not very eco-friendly), there aren’t many occasions where I need to send something by mail — and there are even fewer occasions where an address book is the only place an address can be found.

Still, one of these days, those postal codes and apartment numbers may come in handy. Maybe I’ll get married and want to send out proper invites to everyone, or maybe I’ll decide to spontaneously show up on an old friend’s doorstep (people like that, right?). Anyway, at the very least, keeping an address book, whether on paper or my desktop, will make me feel organized, no matter how many times I lose my biodegradable pen.

Image courtesy of Paul Watson on Flickr;
Office-less paper joke courtesy of my editor


18 Responses to Addressing the real problem (Day 273)…

  1. Toby says:

    Take that cool kids!

  2. just ducky says:

    That is quite torturous — showing us that beautiful Moleskine and then ripping it out of our virtual hands! Were the cool kids the popular kids or the bad ass kids who smoked cigarettes under the bleachers? I was neither of those unfortunately…

  3. Mary says:

    Well, I completely see your point.

    I have to confess I am a Moleskine addict – I came across them in Italy several years ago and rely on the notebooks to keep my head together and my business on track. But, I never thought of them as being eco-un-friendly. I keep them FOREVER, I used them in all sorts of places I couldn’t dream of using a computer, and since the work I do involves great big transboundary environmental projects, I guess I can rationalize it. Plus – I never ever need electricity to turn them on and get the information. And since I never throw them away they don’t enter the waste stream. And I write really tiny. Plus, they usually survive if I spill coffee on them. (Not so much for the computer)

    Gosh, does that make me one of the cool kids? DRAT!!

  4. arif says:

    I’m not really sure what you’re arguing for here – is it using technology, using what you already have, or are you arguing against using paper. The only really green option is to use what you already have, since I’m not sure that the manufacture of a USB thumb drive (which is basically a memory chip with a usb interface), or the computers used in the paperless office are any more or less “green” than paper production.

  5. blah says:

    This is just me, but doesn’t it sound a little strange that you are going to forego using an address book made with (recycled) paper, in favor using a computer that uses energy to hold all your info? Every time you need a phone number or an address, you will have to turn your computer on and find it. If you had a book, you could simply just flip through it.

  6. Anon says:

    If you’re only making these changes (electronic over paper, etc.) until Day 366, what’s the point? I don’t see the different between using a Moleskine now or using it 3 months from now, do you?

  7. This brought up a whole other question. I currently keep all addresses in one place – on my computer. That is really a vulnerable thing. In the case of blackout – natural or imposed or accidental, I would not have any of my addresses. I have always known this, but I have never felt it insurmountable. Times area changing, rights are fading. My virtual community here on the internet could vanish my world in an instant. My point, I wish I had a back-up, a green plan for keeping the connection to my virtual allies.

  8. “vanish my world’ is a lot like “disappear a person” – ominous sounding

  9. Lara says:

    I agree with the idea that if it’s something you already have you should use it, otherwise it’s just taking up space and it’s wasted. Following that thought, you should definitely use your computer file for your addresses, because that way you won’t be buying something new to fill a need you didn’t have until the advertisers got their hooks in you. And using your computer means you won’t have to use white-out or similar products (can we say “Fewer Chemicals”? Yeah!).

    Now, as someone who did get married and used a computer file to organize the invite list, you should put your addresses in a spreadsheet file, not a text file, so you can do a sort by name. You’ll find it much more logical once you have updates and address changes, because sorting by name makes it easy to find the correct line.

    Spreadsheet Tip: Put each category in its own column (examples: Last Name, First Name, Spouse, Address Line 1, Address Line 2, City, State, Zip, Children, Home Phone, Cell, E-mail, relation to me, etc). Doing this makes it fairly easy to do a mail merge to labels at a later date if you need to, and though printing address labels isn’t considered proper etiquette for weddings, you would also be able to create a list to share with bridesmaids when it comes time to address the invites and they are helping you hand write them. Plus, labels for holiday cards are ok. Oh, and if you mess up on an envelope you’re wasting a bunch of paper, but it’s awfully hard to mess up a label, so you would be wasting less paper, right? Though the sticky might not be eco-friendly. ::sigh::

  10. Shawn says:

    Have a look at The free version is excellent and it allows you to sync your address book across Windows (Outlook), Mac (Address Book), as well as Yahoo Mail, GMail, etc.

  11. Sense of Balance says:

    I can see one practical problem with an on-line address file only: if by mischance an errant current fries your hard drive, your “address book” is gone. If you have addresses entered between now and the end of your Greenquest, SOL – either you’ll have to explain to them why they have to ‘phone you monthly when you meet them or you’re irrevocably out of touch.

    And I can see one theoretical problem: referring to an on-line address file by going on-line is more prodigal of carbon than using paper; computer power costs to you, added advertising costs to the people supporting the freeware, etc. If you’re the sort (as I am too) who keeps old diaries, there are plenty of the big producers who turn out Green Diaries on recycled paper. (Letts certainly do – I have one going back to 1992, and would buy them every year if exploitative retailers didn’t insist on charging twice as much as for ordinary paper – but people must buy them all the same, in the same way as one drives a Prius, which leaves a carbon footprint equal to a Hummer, to make a statement.) Green pens (the chemistry, not the carbon content, of the ink) are easy to find today. And the Moleskine is by far not the best diary on the market, even if it’s trendy – there must even be local producers in TO, so that you save on emissions by not having your diary flown in from Italy.

  12. L.M. says:

    Wouldn’t the most environmentally-friendly option be a “notebook” you make yourself out of old credit-card receipts or other waste paper?

    I use a PalmPilot, myself – I’ve had it for years.

  13. emily says:

    Lara, why not write addresses in pencil rather than pen? I have friends whose info I’ve had to change 5 times in 5 years, but I’ve still got the same address book.

    As far as keeping things on a memory stick–keep it there AND on the computer. I have a paper address book and a printout of everybody’s email addresses kept separately, because I’m paranoid, but also because I once lost my email account for a week and panicked (that was when I started printing out updated lists of email addresses). I keep old address-update emails in case I lose the paper copy… you get the drift.

    I have a moleskine, too. I’m highly susceptible to that stuff. 🙂

  14. Stella DeGree says:

    I use an address book and can take it everywhere, and it never does anything funky to me, it never makes me wait, and I just cross out addresses when they change. I can’t remember the last time I’ve needed to buy a new one, and I end up regifting or giving some to the Goodwill whenever I get new ones for gifts. Are there really people out there who don’t already have an address book–DYI or otherwise– somewhere in their possession?

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