But in a dark time, the eye begins to see.” Theodore Roosevelt
“‘…Society must radically decarbonize to spare the future from the worst consequences of climate change. The next few years are probably the most important in our history,’ Debra Roberts, an environmental scientist and a lead author of the UN’s latest climate report, said in a statement.”
3 ways divorce impacts the environment
First, most legal proceedings for annulment, separation, divorce, and the dissolution of domestic partnerships require couples to file and exchange dozens of documents. This means millions of people print and copy reams of paper every day.
The paper and pulp industry is the third largest industrial polluter of air, water, and land in the United States and studies show that it releases well over 100 million kg of toxic pollution each year.” “Discarded paper and paperboard make up roughly 26% of solid municipal solid waste in landfill sites.” Clearcutting destroys the habitats of indigenous people and animals across the globe. Most printer and copier ink contains toxic chemicals packaged in plastic containers and cardboard boxes that are transported thousands of miles in coal-burning rigs and quickly end up in landfills.
Second, millions of people and court staff travel in planes, trains, and automobiles to windowless courthouses with HVAC systems operating ceaselessly five days a week. Air conditioners and heating units emit HFCs (greenhouse gas emissions) that trap far more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Fossil fuel powered vehicles emit poisonous gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and unburned hydrocarbons.
Lastly, most divorced single people live alone. “Current studies show, solo-living consumes more land, energy, goods, and materials per person than living in shared housing households.” And with budget crunches and high costs of living, most newly single people buy mass-produced chemically laden furniture and housewares. (I’m not pointing any fingers. I still have a mattress and sofa with fire retardants and containers with BPA, but a purge is underway.)
It’s enough to make environmentalists cry. But don’t despair. If your family laws and procedures permit, take any or all of the following steps to reduce your carbon footprint.
10 ways to make divorce eco-friendly
1. Accept and request service of process and document exchanges via fax or email (If you use a service like eFax, you can fax without printing)
2. E-file or e-fax your pleadings to the family court either directly or via an authorized service provider
3. If your court system permits fax or electronic service and filing, but requires handwritten signatures on critical documents like your Judgment or Marital Settlement Agreement, only print the pages you must initial or sign, and then scan and transmit via fax or e-file
4. Use negotiation and mediation, and continue court conferences so you don’t need to trek to court to inform the judge that you’re working towards a settlement
5. Speak with your legal team (lawyer, mediator, accountant, etc.) remotely via phone, fax, and email
6. If you must participate in a court conference or hearing, and isn’t critical to your case, appear telephonically, or carpool with your spouse or partner or use public transportation (and wear a mask)
7. If you have children and share joint custody or visitation, share clothes, toys, and other things the kids may out grow quickly or use rarely
8. Furnish your home with up-cycled, recycled, and eco-friendly products that are ethically sourced and made with sustainable materials and minimal chemicals
9. Choose an energy efficient new home in a location that suits your lifestyle
10. Share your new home with another conscious human
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead