Waving the flag for paper in a growing online world

Grant WoodhamsGeraldton Guardian
Grant Woodhams.
Camera IconGrant Woodhams. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

I don’t know when or where it all started, but for many years we have all been increasingly encouraged to join the paperless society.

There seem to be two objectives: one to save trees, the main source of paper; two to do everything online on your computer, mobile phone and the like.

Personally, I think the second objective is the one that is driving the way we are heading.

Every time I receive a bill in the mail, which is nearly every other day, I am encouraged to use a website, do automatic bank deductions or something similar. Perhaps you too have had similar experiences.

I half-understand the desire of big business, both private and government, to use the internet. It makes their life easier and we are sold the benefits of doing it the same way. But I’m not a great believer in this process. I like a real paper trail. Troglodyte and philistine that I am, I use a cheque book.

But that may be a personal fight and perhaps one day I will be the last person left on the planet who still scribbles his name in the bottom right-hand corner of his cheque book.

But what about saving paper?

How many of you have printers at home? In the computerised world of the modern western household a printer is almost as essential as a fridge or a stove.

Tell me this was the case a generation ago. I don’t think so.

And what about all those trees modern technology was meant to save?

I may be way off the mark but I suspect we are using more paper in the history of the planet than we have ever done.

In a 2018 document called The State of the Global Paper Industry, I’ve learnt paper usage exceeds 400 million tonnes a year, the vast majority of it in technologically sophisticated countries.

Allegedly the average office worker will use 10,000 pieces of paper a year.

And remarkably of those 10,000 pieces of paper about 50 per cent of them will end up in the bin on day one.

Paper equals power. The vast majority of important documents are kept as hard copy and filed away for safe keeping.

The world would be a fascinating place if paper ceased to exist, though it probably wouldn’t be worth the tech it was printed on.

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