A paperless society seems logical—but is it actually attainable? The predictions of a paperless society have been around for years, but have yet to come true. This may be one of those things that could be realized from the individual level—going paperless, one person at a time. We have to make a conscious choice to give up paper, be it for paying bills, to using reusable cups for our favorite drinks.
Preventing this from happening could simply be due to lack of information or total misinformation. We tend to think of paper as good waste because it’s biodegradable—conveniently forgetting that we kill trees to produce them.
“Not-So-Fun” Paper Facts
If you have yet to decide if going paperless is the right thing, visualize these:
- Average worldwide annual paper consumption is 48KG/person with North America accounting for over 1/3. (Source: International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED))
- Paper manufacturing is the largest user of water/pound of finished product and the average American uses more than 748 pounds of paper per year. (American Forest and Paper Association)
- US uses approximately 68 million trees each year to produce 17 billion catalogues and 65 billion pieces of direct mail. (IIED)
- 10,000 trees are cut down annually in China to make holiday cards. (Xinhua News Agency)
- The average office worker generates approximately 2 pounds of paper waste every day. (US EPA)
What you can do
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average U.S. office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper/year translating to 4 million tons of copy paper used annually. Imagine how much you can save if you go paperless or even cut down by 50%. Here’s how:
- Sort through your files and dispose useless ones for recycling.
- Scan the files for keeping and store them in your hard drive.
- Back-up your files using online storage or external drives.
- Chose email over snail-mail and register online for your bills and other subscriptions.
Don’t be daunted; remember that most battles are lost by inaction or procrastination.
Go paperless, now.