07/29/2010 04:32 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Making of a Novel: My Carbon Footprint Problem

I have been working this week on nailing down the voice of a character -- the daughter, whom I am calling Kate. I keep printing out the six pages where she speaks in the first person -- printing and checking, printing and checking, printing and checking. I do this because words look different on paper than they do on screen. I can spot the problems, see the weak spots. I go over the pages with a red pen or a pencil, and then I go back to the screen and press on.

The problem is that this is a lot of paper -- and I confess that I don't use duplex printing and I don't print on the back of already used paper and I don't say to myself, "Gee maybe you can just read this on the screen this time." I don't even use recycled paper.

I believe in global warming and in our responsibility to use resources wisely. My dad was a professor of environmental studies, so I know the value and the beauty of old growth forests and rain forests and saplings that have taken root on fire-scored hills. I work hard to arrange carpools, turn off the lights in rooms I'm leaving, remember my fabric bags when I go to the grocery store, buy local, use fluorescent bulbs, and support organizations who preserve wild spaces.Checking myself against a list of green home office tips in This Old House, I'm doing pretty well on everything... except the paper.

And as my page count climbs, I'm going to be printing out 20 pages, 30, 40, and more, and I'll be doing it multiple times. So maybe the next box of paper I buy shouldn't be pristine and white. Maybe it's time to try recycled.

I've located some good sources, below. I've got them in my favorites file. I'm ready for the next time my paper stash runs low.

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