10/10/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

HP Making the 3 R's a Little Easier

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Talk to any environmental expert and they'll tell you that the 3 R's are ordered like this intentionally. It's the order in which we should put them into practice.

Reduce what we consume. Reuse what we can. Recycle the rest.

Fortunately, implementing the mainstays of this decades-old environmental motto has become increasingly more feasible over the past few years. More and more cities are offering curbside recycling. Grocery stores are promoting reusable shopping bags. And goods made from recycled materials have started showing up on store shelves.

I realized at some point in my life that while I can do a pretty good job with reusing and recycling, reducing takes a little more effort.

When I shop, I try to look for products that will have the least impact on the environment and that will generate the least waste. It's kind of a high-maintenance habit--studying labels, upending the bottoms of bottles to examine the recycling symbol, perusing shelves for the least eco-offensive items. It's also a hugely depressing as you become conscious of how much packaging is really involved with the stuff we buy.

Why, for example, do shoes come in such unnecessarily enormous cardboard boxes, and why are they stuffed with excessive amounts of tissue? It's not like they're breakable. And do backpacks really need to be filled with masses of plastic bags and crumpled paper? I'm not even about to start discussing how much Styrofoam and cardboard is used to pack the electronics we buy.

I've determined that sometimes putting the first R into practice can only be as practical as product manufacturers make it. So I was thrilled to read that Hewlett-Packard's new innovation just made all 3 R's a little easier.

Last week HP announced they would begin selling their new HP Pavilion Entertainment Notebook computer in a 100% recycled-fabric--and very stylish, I might add--reusable messenger bag instead of in a cardboard box with Styrofoam and plastic.

The shift, they say, will reduce the amount of packaging the consumer has to dispose of by 97%. What's more, consumers who purchase this computer (available only at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club locations) will also be able to recycle their old computer for free.

Further, because of the reduced packaging, more notebooks will be able to fit into each delivery truck. So the number of trucks needed to transport these computers will be reduced by 25%, which not saves the company money, but decreases fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and the number of big-rigs that crowd our highways.

I just love the way small and innovative shifts like this have the potential to make such a huge difference for the environment--and in this case, for the manufacturer's bottom line as well.