Legal Pads

I’m a lawyer. I do a lot of scribbling on paper. Notes. Phone numbers. Client comments. Problems. Flow charts. Ideas. Cartoons.  And so on. When I’m done and no longer need my scribbles, I toss out the sheet and have a fresh, blank page staring at me.  What’s interesting is that I haven’t used a yellow or white lined legal pad in years (unless I happen to be in a meeting).

I have a printer outside my office.  It sometimes spits out more than is needed.  Rather than pitch the nearly-blank pages, I save them.  Turn them over and clip ’em together.  And use them as a “legal pad.”  I figure that over the years, I’ve saved a tree or two.   Just from using paper that’s blank on one side with some words on the other.  

I feel pretty strongly about conservation.  And recycling.  My trademark JUST TURN IT OFF® says it all (see post of July 23, 2011).  Why can’t we all conserve water, energy and clean air (see May 21, 2012); stretch products like shampoo (see April 11, 2013); reuse “zarfs” (see October 29, 2015); reuse bags (see August 6, 2012).  Each one of us has potential to make a big difference in the world.  Just think if everyone . . . . . . 

It’s the little details that are vital.  Little things make big things happen.”   — John Wooden 


A “zarf” is one of those coffee cup sleeves that they slide up the cup to keep your pinkies from getting too hot. Every take out coffee cup has a zarf. Heaven help the coffee shop that doesn’t use one. Plaintiff’s lawyers would crawl out of their holes to sue. . . . .

Think of the coffee consumed and the zarfs, cups and tops that are bought, used and tossed. Into the trash. Think of all those trees. All the energy to produce millions (billions?) of zarfs.

Some months ago, I got a cup of coffee at Hannah’s Bretzel and carried it to my office. I finished and tossed the cup into the garbage.  I looked down.  And reached into the garbage, fished out the cup and slid off the zarf. And put it the bag I carry around. The next morning when I stopped for coffee, I pulled out my zarf and handed it to the chap behind the counter. He looked at it.   I said “I’m recycling the sleeve.” He smiled, went “ahhhh” and reused it. When I got up to my office and finished the coffee, I slid off the zarf and put it in my bag.

Would you believe that zarf has now lasted me about 6 weeks? That’s roughly 20 zarfs spared.  Saved.  I’m not sure if this makes any difference in the world but I’d bet if each of America’s 150 million coffee drinkers recycled one zarf once each month, the tree population would breathe a sigh of relief.