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Reducing Paper: More than Just an Environmental Cause
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May 13, 2014

Reducing Paper: More than Just an Environmental Cause

By Michael Guta
TMCnet Contributing Writer

The human race has been putting text and images on stone, wood, leather and paper for millennia to communicate our thoughts and ideas. With each succeeding method, the improvements introduced a way in which these thoughts and ideas could be exported to faraway places around the world, which eventually led to a more enlightened world. Today massive amounts of data can be stored and transmitted across borders faster than any other time in history, bringing into question why paper still being used to communicate?

The answer of course is very complicated, and depending on the development of the country in question, paper may still be the only way to conduct the daily affairs of individuals, businesses and public organizations. However, developed countries have the capability of eliminating this ancient technology invented in China anywhere between 140 BC to AD 105.

After more than 2,000 years there is technology in place that makes it possible to dramatically lower or completely eliminate paper usage. The push to get rid of paper from public and private organizations was initially put forward by environmentalists, but the reasons for going paperless go beyond protecting our environment. An article written by Jacqueline Lee on TMCnet tiled, "Going Green Isn't the Best Reason to Go Paperless After All," clearly highlights why individuals and organizations should reduce or do away with paper.

One of the biggest reasons for not using paper is the expense associated with using it. Some of the examples are:

  • It takes money to print, copy and keep paper files
  • It takes an employee about five minutes to find and replace a paper file, which translates to almost an hour a day for just 10 paper files, totaling more than 200 hours annually
  • The costs of using paper in the office can run 13 to 31 times the cost of purchasing the paper in the first place

A Minnesota study has revealed a ream of paper purchased for $5 could end up costing as much as $155 in storage, copying, printing, postage, disposal, and recycling, which doesn't include labor. So when you take a look at all the negatives of using paper you have to ask yourself, how can I lower or eliminate paper usage at the workplace, and my personal life.

Some of the recommendations are:

Using email instead of paper or faxes for internal and external communications, and not printing email messages unless absolutely necessary

Lower the number of copiers and printers, and replace older units with energy saving models that can print on both sides of a sheet of paper.

Print less, reuse what you can and print on both sides for drafts that don't have to be given to customers. Drafts can also be edited electronically instead of on paper.

Reduce the amount of mail the company sends and receives, and determine if they can be distributed electronically.

Stock the office kitchen with reusable utensils instead of disposable paper and plastic.

Individuals can also reduce paper usage by subscribing to digital magazines and newspapers, purchasing eBooks and requesting online billing.

Although this will have a positive impact on the environment, the benefits of having all of your data digitized is, it will always be available without the clutter paper creates on your desk at work and the kitchen counter in your home.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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