Green Genealogy Tips

By Allison Dolan

I was out of town for Earth Day (April 22), but since any day is a good day to be green, here are some ideas for environmentally friendly genealogy research:

Kill lots of birds with one stone (figuratively, of course). If you’re headed to a repository or Family History Center, search the facility’s Web site ahead of time to see what resources it has. Then plan to complete as much of your genealogical to-do list as possible—thus saving a second fossil-fuel-burning trip.

Make it a road trip. Grab a few fellow society members and carpool to libraries and cemeteries. It’ll be more fun that way, too.

Pack out recyclables. If you’re doing research where recycling isn’t available, take home your plastic water bottles and empty soda cans. Or get a reusable bottle and fill it at the drinking fountain.

BYO mug. Instead of taking foam cups, bring a reusable travel mug for coffee. Some shops give you a small discount for using your own mug.

Don’t waste juice. Turn off your desktop or laptop between research sessions—computers draw energy even in sleep mode.

Recharge it. Power your digital camera and other handheld devices with rechargeable batteries. And don’t throw out spent batteries with your regular garbage: They’re considered hazardous waste. Drop them off at a local collection center (click for help finding one, or check with your community’s department of environmental services).

Use less paper. Genealogy by nature involves accumulating paper. Many printer manufacturers recommend against printing on the back of used paper (though we’ve done this successfully on our home inkjet printers). You can use scrap paper for taking notes at the library, or recycle it.

Go for paperless copiers. At some repositories, you can use copiers to scan a record and e-mail it to yourself or burn it to a CD. Ask at the information desk, and have someone show you the equipment.

Recycle printer cartridges. Many office supply stores discount new cartridges if you bring in used ones. Some charities take them, too, for fundraising purposes.

Save trees and your back. Attending a genealogy conference? If possible, opt to get the syllabus on CD or as a PDF. The upcoming National Genealogical Society conference (May 14-17), for example, will make the syllabus available to attendees as a PDF.

Isn’t it cool how doing greener research also can save you time and money? Click Comments (below) to add your own tips.