Curbing climate change :: Every little bit helps

Curbing climate change :: Every little bit helps

Curbing climate change

Every little bit helps
Psychologists are going green with these planet-pleasing practices

By Amy Novotney
Monitor staff

“You don’t necessarily want to get caught up in the details of what kind of light bulbs and paper you’re using if you’re flying around the country all the time and not doing something about that.”

Thomas Doherty
Portland, Ore.


It may be an inconvenient truth for some but it seems as if everyone’s going green. Here are a few ways psychologists in particular can help protect the planet.

Save a tree; use your computer. Review the resources you consume daily and make adjustments as needed, says Thomas Doherty, PsyD, a Portland, Ore., psychologist who helps clients develop more sustainable lifestyles. Psychologists, for example, tend to use a lot of paper—for reports, presentations, client files and more. To curb paper waste, Indiana University cognitive psychology professor Michelle Verges, PhD, posts her syllabi and other course information online and uses both sides of the paper when she does need to print. Researchers can reduce paper use by collecting data via the Web when possible.

Confidentiality concerns may prevent clinicians and researchers from reusing paper, so Doherty recommends finding a local source for buying post-consumer recycled paper. Not only does recycled paper save trees, it keeps more trees sucking up carbon dioxide from the air, reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the air. Confidential documents may be shredded and then recycled—at least in most areas, Doherty says. In Phoenix—a city that does not accept shredded paper for recycling—psychologist Sherri Gallagher, PhD, says she puts it in her compost and later uses it to fertilize her garden.

Practitioners may even want to consider the example of Portland, Ore., psychologist Jeffrey Noethe, PhD, who went almost completely paperless. When Noethe does patient intakes, for example, he scans and shreds each client’s information form and signature pages and types up notes after each session. He does all of his scheduling and billing electronically, as well. As for security, he says his encrypted computer files are much safer than paper copies in a file cabinet.

“There are more people who know how to use a crowbar than know how to hack a computer,” says Noethe, who is on the steering committee of the Portland-based group Psychology for a Sustainable Future, which explores the connections among psychology, ecology and sustainability.

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READ MORE of this article HERE at The American Psychological Association‘s Monitor on Psychology.