Despite today’s advanced technology being specifically designed to help society go paperless, the amount of paper used per day per person is astounding.
According to The Paperless Project, the average person in the U.S., at the end of the last decade, consumed as much paper as six people combined in Asia or more than 30 people in Africa.
“At the typical school, 90 percent of what goes into the recycle bin is paper,” said Ashley Bryant Cheney of Bluegrass Greensource. “Most recycle hundreds of pounds of paper a day. Just reducing that would make a difference.”
To celebrate Earth Day and to the curb carbon footprint emitted by their companies, many businesses, such as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, are taking the initiative to offer paperless options to their customers.
“Going paperless is a really easy thing for people to do,” said Cheney. “Not only is it saving a resource, but saving the company money. If they are saving money, hopefully they will be able to pass the savings along to their customers.”
Paper is recyclable, but does use trees. Cheney added that consumers often go paperless with things that are mailed.
“Mail requires transportation, so not only do you have the paper being used, but all the vehicles that need to transport the letters,” said Cheney. “Most households get a large amount of junk mail everyday. By just canceling the junk mail, and asking them not to send you more offers can reduce the amount of paper you use.”
Cheney said that most companies have a website or phone number that can be called to stop mail from being sent to a residence.
Most household bills can also be made paperless by going online and signing up for electronic delivery. “Just think how much paper you are going to save if you switch your electric bill, water bill, phone bill and cable bill to paperless,” said Cheney.
Often companies offer special features for online users, and usually consumers can switch back to paper at any time.
Cheney added a bonus to going paperless is that electronic files are safe from household fires and natural disasters.
“You are always going to have all your records in another place,” she said.
Cheney said after someone is used to having their mail delivered electronically, to start looking for ways to go paperless around the home.
“Make notes on your phone instead of Post-It Notes,” explained Cheney. “Use apps to make grocery lists on your tablet or computer. Also, avoid printing emails, and when using a copier, print double sided to cut your paper usage in half.”
Cheney said she likes reminding people about the whole chain involved in making paper. First the trees are planted, watered, then the company has to wait for them to grow, cut them down, transport them, process them into pulp, sometimes transport them again to another plant, roll them into a large sheet, and cut into sheets used by the consumer.
Bluegrass Greensource, an environmental education and outreach non-profit that works with over 21 communities throughout the bluegrass. For more information call (869) 266-1572 or visit BGGreenSource.org.
The Paperless Project is a grassroots coalition of companies focused on transforming the way organizations work with paper and electronic content.
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