Did you know that the United States is the second-biggest consumer of paper and cardboard products in the world according to a 2016 estimate by research firm Statista?. Next, only to China, we use approximately 229 kilograms of paper and cardboard per person! Though the numbers may have reduced in recent years owing to the increased awareness about the many environmental issues surrounding the production of papers, the numbers are still very high and alarming. For a country that prides itself on leading the way for the rest of the world, this is certainly not what we want to model for cultivating a sustainable economy.
A singleton of office paper needs about 24 trees to be felled, chipped, and processed before they can be made into the paper we are familiar with. During this process, the amount of chemicals, energy, and water used is simply humongous, not to mention the pollution and damage to the environment. But considering that paper is still one of the most useful inventions of modern man, one may be forgiven to think that it is enough to just reduce his/her consumption of paper. That is not the case, especially when you realize that 40% of the waste in our country is still paper!
So what can we, as responsible citizens, individuals, small business owners, and householders, do to help this cause? How can we save the trees and stop contributing to the environmental issues? How can we adapt and become role models to showcase a sustainable business or personal practices? The answer is very simple. We can stop adding to the demand for paper and cardboard by going as paperless as possible for us.
Going paperless, however, need not be as hard or difficult as it has been made out to be. Luckily we are in the digital era. Today, there is a wide choice and numerous applications that provide easier, much more accessible and sustainable alternative to using paper for whatever purpose you may have in mind.
Take, for instance, the NumReceipt expense tracker app. It provides you an efficient and simple way to record and track your expenses digitally anywhere anytime instead of spending unnecessary resources and energy on printing paper receipts, filing & storing them, and searching for them desperately when the need suddenly arises. Not only will the app dispose of the need to print or file paper but it will also help you save your energies drastically. So the next time you are purchasing a business supply or paying for an expense, you can simply wave off when the clerk asks you if you need a paper receipt and instead opt to have it sent to you electronically. Once you feed that electronic receipt to the app, it will then automatically categorize and maintain it for you.
Similarly, there are other equally wonderful solutions for going paperless in all areas of your lives. To begin with, you can reduce or cut down the personal paper stationery you may be used to maintain your to-do lists, make notes during meetings, or keeping tabs of your business transactions. Simply identify a suitable mobile app that can address your need and switch to it cold-turkey. Just like NumReceipt, most of them should be able to provide you uninterrupted access both on your mobile and desktops.
The next thing to do would be to ensure no other paper items enters your home or business premises – the junk mails, the bank statements, the utility bills, the magazines, so on and so forth. Do a simple survey of your premises and make a list of all the paper items you see cluttering your space. Take an hour or two to reach out to your bank or utility to sign up for electronic statements and opt-out of physical paper copies. Once you do that, you will need to ensure you do not bring back any paper yourself – either by accepting a printed credit card purchase receipt or a payment acknowledgment. Remember to refuse paper copies and demand that all receipts be sent to you electronically – better yet; make all your transactions electronic as much as possible.
After following this for a month or so, you will get a reasonable hold on the amount of paper you are consuming and you might even be able to bring it down to near Zero. Pat yourself on the back but do not stop there. Do take the time to search out all the old papers you have stashed away and seen how you can responsibly get them dropped off at a recycling facility. For papers that are too important, you will need to scan them into digital copies first before shredding and then recycling them. While it can seem like hard work, it can be highly satisfying as well to know your small efforts will go a long way in helping the environment and saving the trees.
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