Health Alert:   COVID-19 Transmission Level:   HIGH   More information
Wear a mask; stay home.

Got questions? Ask the Green Geek.

Green Geek LogoWondering how to recycle shredded paper? Whether small appliances use energy even when they're turned off? Or if you need to put your computer to sleep when you're not using it?

Ask the Green Geek.

Pima County FYI has a monthly column featuring questions and answers on all things green. Our own Green Geek gets assistance on answering your questions from the sustainability experts in Pima County's Office of Sustainability and Conservation.

Send your questions to And look for the column the second Friday of each month on the left sidebar of the newsletter.

Dear Green Geek,

How much does the average American consume in paper, wood, and other products made from trees each year?

Thanks, Anna

Hi, Anna, 

The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees. It may not sound like much, but this adds up to over 2 billion trees per year for the U.S. as a whole!

Green Geek

Dear Green Geek,

Do items such as cell phone chargers, fans, coffeemakers, desktop printers, radios, etc. consume energy even when they are turned off?

Thank you, Ben

Hi, Ben, 


Items such as these use energy even when turned “off.” This energy is referred to as “Phantom Energy” and can amount to up to 5% of a building or home’s energy use! Unplug appliances when not in use or try plugging a couple of your devices into a surge protector that can be clicked on and off to make things easier.

Green Geek

Dear Green Geek,

I’m wondering about our recycle trash. Just how should I put in shredded paper, or even just newspapers, or does it all get thrown onto a big conveyor belt and is sorted that way? Maybe the newspapers I put in a paper sack gets torn as soon as it hits the truck?

Shredded paperGenerally any information you have regarding our recyclables would be appreciated. Thanks for your column. It’s always interesting.


Hi, Liz,

Great question. Shredded paper should be placed in a clear plastic bag. Newspaper and other paper can be placed directly into your recycling bin as is. I hope that helps,

Green Geek

Dear Green Geek,

Is it worth putting my computer on sleep or hibernate after not using it for a certain amount of time?



Hi, Dmitri, 


The U.S. Department of Energy recommends turning off your monitor and placing your computer on sleep mode if you are not going to use it for more than 20 minutes. It is estimated that in 2008, $2.8 billion went to energy costs to power unused computers in the workplace alone. The amount of energy used for this is estimated to release over 20 million tons of CO2e emissions -- the equivalent of the emissions from approximately 4 million cars!

Tip: Lose the screen saver if you have one. They use just as much energy as when the computer is in use!

Green Geek
Follow UsShare this page

Communications Office

130 W. Congress
Tucson, AZ 85701

(520) 724-9999

Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - noon and 1 - 5 p.m., except on holidays.

Department Home Page
Department News
Department Feedback Form
Subscribe to Pima County FYI Newsletter
Volunteer with Pima County