Author: Rochelle Sanchirico
Going paperless is a growing trend as more people in companies and households become aware of the growing concerns associated with paper use. Estimates suggest that the typical office worker in the United States uses approximately 10,000 sheets of paper every year, with each of these workers also generating around 2 pounds of paper each day. Maintaining mature trees is crucial for filtering pollutants from the air, and by reducing or even eliminating the amount of paper used and produced, it’s possible to have a positive impact on the environment. You can take steps to reduce the amount of paper you use in your home and office by implementing several key strategies.Organization/Time Management Many people find that going paperless results in a number of benefits, including better organization and time management. Reducing the amount of paper used and produced also reduces the need for storage of paper in the home and in the office. You won’t need to store the paper before you use it, and you also won’t have to store hard copies of documents in a bulky filing system. Reducing the number of papers coming and going out of your home or office also increases productivity because you won’t have to spend time managing the hard copies of the documents. The possibility of misplacing or losing documents is also an ongoing risk. If this happens, you will need to spend time searching for the documents or finding a way to replace them. When you keep electronic copies of documents, you are less likely to lose them. Electronic documents are also easier to share with others, either by uploading them to a cloud server or by emailing them as attachments. Record-Keeping Many companies have stringent requirements and guidelines for record storage, necessitating the retention of records for a specific number of years. This can be a cumbersome task when records are in hard-copy format. But storing digital documents can be comparatively simple for several reasons. First, digital documents do not require storage space in file cabinets or boxes. Second, storing digital documents can be done with a simple numeric system that creates an audit trail, making it simple to manage the location of the digital documents via software. When the time comes to show compliance with these requirements, you will find this to be a simple process, which saves time and money. Structure Structuring a system that uses less paper takes time and effort. It can be somewhat challenging to make the change from working with hard copies of documents to working more with just electronic copies. People often prefer having hard copies of invoices, receipts, and other records. However, with some training, it’s possible to change the preference for hard copies of documents to digital copies. The place to start with implementing a paperless home or office is often with the software you use. Many programs are available that help with organization and maintenance of digital records. Regular backup processes will also be crucial to protect against loss of digital records. You might use software for backups, or you can engage a company that specializes in data archival preservation. Another option for going paperless is to copy digital records onto an external hard drive, storing this hard drive in a safe deposit box. Many companies find that going paperless has a surprising impact on employee morale. When employees feel like they are contributing positively to the environment and doing their part to achieve sustainability, they often feel more fulfilled. Employees may even work harder due to these positive feelings. Sustainability Sustainability is the process of meeting current needs without compromising the ability of people in the future to meet their needs. Sustainability seeks to balance the environment and natural resources with economic security. Full sustainability benefits the environment, the society that lives in it, and the economy. Because paper is a consumable resource, reducing the amount of paper you produce and use can enable you to contribute to a more sustainable local and worldwide community. Cutting down trees eliminates them from the environment, which affects the ecosystem negatively because the trees won’t be contributing oxygen and neutralizing pollution. The process of producing paper uses energy, which releases harmful gases into the environment. Transporting paper via delivery systems uses fuel, which also releases gases into the environment. Printing documents uses toner and ink, which contain hazardous materials that can negatively impact the environment. Switching to digital documents reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the use of potentially harmful chemicals, and it conserves forests.