Going Paperless

Posted: 2010/03/23 in Blog

I have, for as long as i can remember, been a bit of a tree hugger.  Most anything that could give me cause to ‘save the rain forest’ i would consider.  I have actively sought out paperless alternatives, I have taken steps in companies I work for to reduce paper cost, and I have been conscientious about recycling.  I have been wondering lately, what else can we and can’t we do.

A concept that probably won’t be accepted in my life time is the conversion from paper money to money cards.  Could we get rid of our paper and coin money in exchange for higher end credit cards?  Our Drivers License / State ID Cards could easily be upgraded to have a scanner strip used for monetary transactions.  Colleges do it now with college IDs.  The big questions for this one is who governs the money and how do we decided what everything’s worth when our monetary system takes the final jump to truly fictisious representation of value.  I personally have no real attachment to the paper and coin currency, but I see the attachment that some have to it.  You can hold a stack of money next to another stack of money and get a quantifiable difference in sums.  As far as the abstract nature of how many ‘credits’ or how much money someone has when it goes all digital, what’s so different from that and government issued money to begin with?

Newspapers something that has already dove into the digital realm.  News, especially, is one thing that really doesn’t need to be on paper.  I recieve all of my news from a variety of online sources.  I consider myself more knowledgable in regards to current events than someone who only reads the local paper.  This is because I can locate stories from multiple sources with multiple views on the subject and come to my own conclusion on a topic.  I believe that newspaper outlets need to strive to convert their publications to an online media and do away with the probably billions of sheets of newpaper that is discarded every day of the year. 

Flyers and advertisements are a little harder to do away with.  The ability to place something in another persons hand to look at is an invaluable asset; ask any face-to-face salesperson about the power of placing something in a persons hand and then discussing the item.  I do see things that are a little on the science fictiony side but actually plausable in the next decade.  With the expansion of data pads and data-centric cell phones, we have the ability to swap documents back and forth with ease.  The guy that wants to let people know about his bands upcoming gig can hang the same place that he would have passed out flyers and transfer promo sheets to peoples phones and data pads, if they’re willing to accept.  As far as all of the paper advertisements that are mailed to us on a daily basis, I hate it.  I hate junk paper mail more than i hate junk email.  junk email I may actually browse subject lines.  Junk papermail I refuse to even acknowledge and i toss it.

Bills and reciepts are a hard one to due away with.  A paper trail is important as a solid record of things that you can prove to have happened.  I personally do all of my business online and only recieve digital records of rather than paper bills.  Most anytime I have the option to prevent a paper reciept from being printed, i will do so, as i toss them as soon as i get home.  Bills and reciepts may be something that has to stay on paper as it’s one of the few ways to truly establish a record of events.

Literature and the Arts is an area where I concede that paper is just necessary.  Once a work of literature or a piece of art has been completed, it can be digitally rendered and distributed, but i agree that the original is just better in it’s current, paper form, or what ever media the individual has used.

There are many ways to reduce paper use in our lives, you simply have to make the choice.  i really believe that the world would be better for the change in the end.  According to the United States Department of Labor, there are approxamately 398,500 people employed in the Paper manufacturing industry.  This is, of course, a number that needs considering before we just do away with paper.  Switching to digital media will create more jobs, but they will be higher skilled jobs that require fewer people to accomplish tasks.  As we do with everything of this scale, we must find the balance and a way to utilize the work force that would be lost.

I hope we all take a moment to consider what we can do to reduce waste.  Paper is a good start, but what can you do, in general, to save.  More fuel efficient cars, car pooling, public transportation, andusing reusable bottles rather than disposable plastic water bottles are all things that we can do to do our part.

  1. kevinkmjr says:

    One of my offline friends pointed out that paper money is no longer made out of true paper; it is now made out of cotton and synthetics. I still hold no value in it over digitally tracked currency.

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