Today, on Earth Day, you may pause to consider the ways in which your actions affect the environment. There's a group of 4th graders who want you to think about one simple solution: trim your margins to save some trees.
The students recently took their idea to Beacon Hill to lobby lawmakers on the environmental lesson. WBUR's Monica Brady-Myerov went along, and has this report.
TEXT OF STORY:
SOUND OF STATE HOUSE HALLWAY
MONICA BRADY-MYEROV: These 4th graders from the private Atrium School in Watertown are walking the halls of power on an environmental mission. They want to get everyone in the State House to change the margins when they print documents. The simplicity of the idea appeals to 10 year old Allie Reilinger.
ALLIE RELINGER: We heard about it and we thought it would be a good thing we could do and not that hard and we could really make a difference by doing it.
BRADY-MYEROV: The school already does it, so do many of the parents, a couple of whom are with the kids today. Eli Berlin wants the State House to be next.
ELI BERLIN: There are so many convincing facts why we should and there's no point in not doing it.
BRADY-MYEROV: The students' cite facts from the web site "Changethemargins.com" which says if all margins were changed from 1 inch to three quarters, that would leave 19% more space for text and less paper used. The paper industry is the second biggest user of fossil fuels. It is also uses more fresh water per ton of product than any other industry.
BRADY-MYEROV: The students stop at Representative Frank Simzik's office. He chairs the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. As with most lawmakers they try to lobby, the kids end up talking with an aide instead, Nathaniel Thomas.
NATHANIEL THOMAS: He's in a meeting right now but I'm his legislative aide.
BRADY-MYEROV: Shayna Bredbeck starts the pitch by giving Thomas a CD with a power point presentation (to save paper.) It lays out the environmental benefits of printing on a larger portion of the paper.
SAHYNA BREDBECK: This is just some info that we have on changing the margins and stuff.
THOMAS: Excellent, I've read all about it and I'm for it.
BREDBECK: Do you have any questions?
THOMAS: How do you want to implement this whole thing? Do you think we should change the margins in all state documents?
BRADY-MYEROV: It's clear from the students' hesitation that they haven't really thought through their approach, so Eli Berlin steps in with some numbers.
ELI BERLIN: If you use efficient margins here in a year you would save 71 trees.
THOMAS: Wow that's unbelievable.
BRADY-MYEROV: Thomas promises to have Smizik's office change the margins but says he doubts there will be any legislative action. The teacher steers the kids next to the Governor's office, where Deval Patrick can't see them. But his aide listens to Christian Corrigan.
CHRISTIAN CORRIGAN: We have some convincing facts here about the changing the margins and if everyone in the US did, then we would save six million 156,000 trees.
BRADY-MYEROV: The aide promises to share the idea with the governor. Satisfied they've done with they can to help save the environment, the Atrium School 4th graders return back to school, via public transportation.
For WBUR I'm Monica Brady-Myerov.
This program aired on April 22, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.