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Posted by: Gail Ashworth on Oct 23, 2009

Journal Issue Date: Nov 2009

Journal Name: November 2009 - Vol. 45, No. 11

The TBA Environmental Law Section has agreed to help me promote a Green Initiative for members, law firms and offices in all practice settings throughout this bar year. As part of the Green Initiative, the TBA will provide information in upcoming issues of the Tennessee Bar Journal and other TBA publications on ways that you, your firm or your office can implement conservation practices that will help make a significant impact on the environment.

Please let me know if you would like to be involved in this effort or if you want to provide information that might be helpful to lawyers, firms and companies who are considering ways to implement best practices for office paper management, the use of renewable energy and better energy management. I look forward to working with the Environmental Law Section throughout this year to help move all Tennessee lawyers forward on this important issue.

Recent daily news headlines from The Tennessean and other news sources across our state demonstrate the relevance of a Green Initiative in today's world:

"UT Trustees approve buying land for solar plant," Haywood County
"Ash cleanup keeps river closed," Kingston
"In eco era, Vanderbilt keeps its coal," Nashville
"Nissan hurries charger outlets (for electric vehicles)," Franklin and Smyrna.

This month, the TBA Environmental Law Section has provided us with its first simple but effective tip to members on small steps we can all take to Go Green that together make a big difference. Each month, the Go Green tip will be printed with this column. This month's tip, "Commuting to Work," and the suggestions in that tip can be adapted and expanded in virtually any work situation to include walking to work, walking to some destinations during your workday instead of driving and using transportation that lessens the impact on the environment when possible, among others.

The photograph TBA staff members Barry Kolar and Suzanne Robertson took of me in my Smart car for this column is a demonstration of the expansion of the tip to fit my particular circumstances. I live 17 miles from my office and I do not use the available public transportation from the nearest location for scheduling reasons. I do use my Smart car for transportation whenever possible, which is usually seven days a week. Before the Smart car, I drove a Mini Cooper but my brother Joe convinced me to sell it to him after five and half years and 92,000 miles because he really needed a commuter car at the time and it was a great one. The Smart car had just come to Tennessee and it replaced my Mini Cooper, so I had an opportunity to Go Greener when replacing the Mini that worked for me. I must also admit it is fun referring to my car as Smart, it is fun to drive a Smart car and I enjoy the high gas mileage of 42 miles per gallon even without $4 per gallon gas prices. If we had a train available as public transportation from Bellevue to downtown Nashville, I am sure I would ride it to and from work whenever possible because riding a train is also fun. Some staff members and lawyers ride the train from Lebanon to downtown Nashville and back to their homes in Wilson County and they love it. We do not yet have a train in Bellevue, so driving a Smart car makes Going Green fun for me.

Other areas of the TBA are already greener. Instead of mugs or T-shirts, new law student members can have a tree planted in their name by simply registering with the TBA. I helped give out some of these trees at the Law Student Membership event held at Vanderbilt University Law School in September. Recycled plastic, reusable grocery bags will be the new thank you gifts for CLE speakers and others involved in the TBA. Most section newsletters are now electronic, which means they get to you more frequently, quicker and without printing and mailing costs. The TBA office is also doing its part. The TBA staff has recycled paper, plastic and aluminum for many years and they use recycled paper for all printing and copying. Recently the TBA reduced the carbon footprint of the materials supplied to the TBA Board and House members, saving in transportation and cost. And, the Tennessee Bar Journal " this very magazine " has been printed on various mixes of recycled paper since the 1991 cover story "Can Your Law Office Save the Earth? No, But You Gotta Start Somewhere." The story urged readers that "one thing recycled is better than no things recycled."

One of the Environmental Law Section's upcoming tips, Going Paperless, is really hard for me but I am already working diligently on that tip, which will likely take me not just this year but several years into the future. I definitely need a head start on that tip. The section and the TBA are walking the walk and not just talking the talk, as evidenced by the section's newsletter, which is now electronic and available on the TBA web site, along with the Leadership Directory, a Section Membership Directory, current and past newsletters and other helpful information. Other TBA sections and committees are also working hard as they Go Paperless. You will hear more about the Going Paperless tip soon.

Thank you to the Environmental Law Section members for their energy and vision and for helping us learn more about this important initiative not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

"We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children." — Native American proverb