By Elliot Hoffman, CEO, REV

The sun shone brightly as I stepped off my flight from San Francisco to San Diego in February. The folks at the Hertz car rental were efficient, and friendly — a nice experience. The woman behind the counter handed me the Hertz contract and directed me through the new San Diego car rental facility without a fuss. I got to the car in no time, drove to the exit booth, handed the contract to the check out attendant and was on my way.

When I arrived at my sister’s place I just happened to look at the Hertz contract. It was a bit of a mind-blowing experience, and not for the reasons one normally associates with reading the fine print.

At REV, we are all highly dedicated to working with a wide diversity of companies, organizations, and cities to help accelerate our collective sustainability and climate solutions journey and impact. In addition to addressing the more straightforward opportunities around sustainability and resource efficiency for businesses, we’re often struck by the little habits — I like to call them “little insanities” — that are so flagrantly wasteful and yet we hardly give them a second look. This one from Hertz really hurts because it is so obvious and presents such a huge opportunity.

Hertz officeAs I opened the paper sleeve that holds the contract, it wasn’t the information that first caught my attention, but rather the physical contract itself. Imagine cards about the thickness of an index card, 9 inches by 3 ½ inches, strung together in a group of 6 cards. The information was printed on one side only of each card, in tiny print that no one except the Hertz attorneys would ever read. Then I looked more closely at the sleeve holding the contract: six more pages (same size as the cards) with more illegible print that provides no immediately useful information for the typical customer. That’s a total of 12 pages, half printed on one side, for every Hertz car rental customer. That hurts.

Imagine if Hertz rethought this little bit of madness and just gave the customer one sheet of paper, printed on both sides, as the contract. Of course there’s a need for extensive contract information because of liability issues; nevertheless Hertz could take advantage of digital technology to deliver a copy of this information via email, or mobile app. With nearly 3,000 airport rental locations globally, Hertz and its affiliate brands serve tens of thousands of customers daily. Imagine the impact of this one simple paper reduction initiative.

We need our businesses, organizations, governments and every institution — large and small — to open their eyes and think about all the resources we are wasting. We can no longer simply do what we’ve always done just because that’s the way we’ve always done it. If we do, we’ll get what we’ve been getting —huge levels of wasted resources of all kinds leaving nothing for the future and accelerating the rate of environmental degradation.

The big things really matter. So do these little insanities. It is often these little awakenings that begin to open our eyes and mind to a new way of thinking, living, and working in a world with diminishing resources, a growing population, and a deteriorating environment.

We know that it’s often the actions and voices of the customer that spark change. Next time you rent from Hertz, just offer them a friendly tip that will make you happier, help them reduce their waste, and save them money all at the same time. What a concept.