Friday, December 7, 2007

Grab Bag Friday: The GOOD Stuff

Well, it's that time of the GOOD magazine arrived in the mail. The theme of the magazine this month was Big Ideas. Out of all the grandiose ideas GOOD outlined (a lunar ark, carbon offsets, Russian democracy), my imagination was captured by a seemingly small, simple idea that earned a couple paragraphs in the issue: changing our paper margins.

Tamara Krinsky has started an effort to change the U.S. default paper margins from the standard 1.25" to .75". Simple enough, right? Well, according to Penn State University, if the entire country made this small change, it would save 380,000 tons of paper per year, and over $400 million in paper costs. That is stunning.

You can read PSU's statistics & breakdown of the study here (.pdf).

Tamara has what I believe to be some pretty simple, accessible goals. According to her website,, she would like to accomplish the following:
  1. Convince Microsoft to change the default margin settings in Microsoft Word to .75 on all sides. The more convenient it is for people to change their habits, the better chance there is that they will actually do so. (You can sign the Microsoft petition for margin change here.)
  2. Persuade five corporations to officially sanction narrower margins for all company documents. In this way, people will get used to seeing documents with this formatting as the standard, as opposed to the exception. Never underestimate the power of peer pressure.
  3. Challenge five universities to adopt narrower margin settings as the standard for their students and faculty, and include this information in their course guidelines.
Here's an interesting 4 minute interview with Tamara Krinsky on NPR about her project.

So, what do you think? Good idea? Can you think of any reason *not* to change the margins?

Paper photo by pawpaw


Tamara Krinsky said...

Thanks so much for the shout out! The petition signatures doubled in the last two days, and was trying to figure out why. Your post led me to the discovery that GOOD had run the story. Keeping fingers crossed that everyone will be as supportive of the idea that you have been!


Josephine Cameron said...

Hey Tamara. Thanks for putting this all together & coming up with such a great, simple idea. How great that petition signatures have doubled...I hope they continue to multiply!