We’ve all felt it – the wave of guilt when hitting the print button. Since the ‘save the trees, use less paper, save the planet’ movement swept the globe, using paper can feel like shortening the life of our planet one page at a time. Recent studies show that thinking this way presents only one side of the conservation. After all, going paperless wasn’t very green.
Electronic Communication and Data Storage Can Replace Paper, But Should They?
Electronic devices for communication and data storage are all key elements of the ‘paperless’ society that is being presented as the answer to global climate issues. But the truth about a paperless society is that it also has an ecological footprint that impacts the environment, and not in a good way.
Energy Hungry Technology
How much energy was used to produce the device you’re reading this on? How much energy does it take every day to keep the same device charged and running? All the electronic gadgets that we’ve come to rely on every day require energy to be made and to operate. This energy is still largely derived from fossil fuels.
Dumping Old for New
The lifespan of the average electronic device is approximately 18 months. Our desire to be efficiently combined with new technology constantly being released leads to a huge number of discarded devices ending up in landfills. According to a report by UNEP the amount of global e-waste generated is growing by 40 million tons a year.
What’s Inside Isn’t Renewable
Electronic devices need rare earth elements (REEs) to function. These are non-renewable elements that are extracted from ore in deep open-pit mines. The mining process is heavily reliant on fossil fuels and creates air and water pollution. Solvents, chemicals, and toxic metals are used in the process of extracting REEs. This process scars and pollutes the landscape further.
Why Choose Paper?
Since the first sheet of paper was hammered out from papyrus, paper has come a long way and brought us along for the ride. From the books we read, and those we write in, to the money that we use, paper has made our lives better. Here’s some food for thought as we consider the impact of a paperless society.
Paper and Your Brain
In spite of eBooks, online learning and other forms of electronic education, paper is still the number one choice for getting knowledge into your head. Working on a physical piece of paper makes us more productive, helps us pay attention and open to receiving information. Researchers in Norway conducted an experiment with 72 students. They were given a passage to read, some on paper, others on a computer. Afterward, they were given a comprehension test and the paper readers scored much higher than those who read on a device. This is possibly due to our mind attaching a physical location to where facts are on the page, something that isn’t really possible when working off an electronic device. Research even suggests that doodling in the margins of the page can help with memorization.
Recycling and Paper: A Perfect Match
Paper is one of the most successfully recycled products in the world today. For example, the recovery rate in North American is over 65% and that number is rising. This percentage is much higher than plastic – only 25% of plastic gets recycled in the U.S. annually. Recycled paper is then used in paper production.
Paper Is Sustainable and Renewable
The wood that goes into making paper is a renewable resource, particularly as the trend, is toward responsible forestry that aims at more trees being planted than cut down. Responsible forestry also makes use of renewable biomass instead of fossil fuels to run their operations, reducing their impact on the environment even more.
A Greener Paper Option
Paper is a useful, valuable resource that fulfills many of our daily needs. What we can do to look after our planet but still enjoy the benefits of using paper is to choose to support environmentally friendly paper vendors and suppliers like Woodland Paper. Contact our staff today for all your paper requirements and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are helping our planet.