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Paperless World: Rely on Technology or Self-Discipline

February 10, 2011

My printer has to toil and moil every Friday when I prepare for the next week’s reading. And seems like it’s even worse with my PhD friends as the number of pages they have to digest each week starts from a whopping 600.

Throw in some simple math and that works out to 2,400 sheets of paper a month. In a year — 28,800. And that is just the beginning.

However, most of the time these papers are what I call “single-use”. I’ve found that people seldom go back to read again after they finish the assignment or research. Moreover, I think most won’t remember all the material they’ve just read.

But let’s see from another perspective.

Normally speaking, one 15-to-20-year-old tree equals to 3,000 pages (and think about other materials the paper mill need for the paper production), which is approximately the amount one PhD uses for his/her one-month of work.

“You are killing one tree per month.” I joked with my friend after I made a quick calculation with the stats above

One report in Columbia Business Times, gives statistics of how this relates to us in Columbia — from the mouth of Corey Backues, GFI Digital’s director of sales in mid-Missouri.

“For small companies, the common misconception is that buying a low cost multifunctional is the way to go. The price of the actual machine is a small part of total operating costs if the purchase is made without checking into the cost and yields of the toner and maintenance kits. If a business is doing a monthly printing and copying volume of at least 2,000 items in black and white and 1,000 in color, it’s typically a better deal to lease a machine with an all-inclusive service contract.”

“For larger businesses we find up to 90 percent of companies do not know how many printers they have or if they are properly utilizing their print equipment. As much as 25 percent of IT time is spent on help desk calls that related to printing and copying. Annual printer volumes are increasing in b/w year over year while color volume is exploding with 20 percent or more growth, according to GFI print assessments. Some studies show the average office employee spends more than $1,000 a year in document output while the business spends 1 to 3 percent of annual revenues on imaging device.”

What makes me feel better is that the actions taken by our society are never difficult to find in daily news: the banks suggest sending monthly bills electronically; council recommends paperless conference in; high schools try to give more exams online…

But for the aim of “paperless”, there comes another keyword: technology.

More multi-functional machines are introduced to save paper; more electronic reading applications like Kindle, BeBook, iPad, Alex, Sony and such flood into the market. But still, our reading habit fostered from childhood still keeps most of us reading paper version.

But wait — Is the factor “technology” enough for a paperless world?

The answer is no.

Simply owning an electronic reader doesn’t mean you will reduce printer use. But without the cool, new technology — would you still waste more paper?

It is a case of self-discipline.

Keep the thought to save paper in mind.—- It is even more useful than spending hundreds of dollars for a electronic device.

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