Paper in a Digital World

Paper in a Digital World

There is no doubt that the electronic world has made things faster. Can you ever imagine trying to find a document by having to filter through columns of file cabinets or shelves housing folders filled to the brim with paper? Any attempt to locate a file or record would be a nightmare.

Electronic communications, while perceived to be faster in locating documents, as well as more eco-friendly than paper, has its own environmental footprint, often ignored when looking at the recyclability factors. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, less than 20 percent of electronic products, including computers, keyboards, monitors, and television sets were recycled in 2010. Computers and the like are full of plastics and hydrocarbons, as well as metals and minerals, such as silver, gold, and palladium. To manufacture one computer and monitor, it takes 530 pounds of fossil fuel, 48 lbs. of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water. This certainly does soften the negative misperception on the issue of sustainability and the impact on the environment paper makers have been fighting for years.

I recognize that we are in an ever evolving digital world and there are plenty of good reasons to print and that there are more emotional connections with print as opposed to digital. Paper is not something that can be deleted or destroyed in a power outage; it is something that can be read regardless of whether or not your computer monitor will display it. Paper is a physical form which can be copied and stored in several physical locations, with no worries of data loss or storage. You can store paper anywhere you want, free of risk that your personal documents could be instantly copied and spread out via the wonders of the World Wide Web.

On a more personal note, there is nothing more precious than to receive a hand written letter, note, or home made card. As time has passed, I bring out those letters, home made cards and notes, and I hold them in my hands from those who I cherish, all because of paper.

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One Comment

  1. smartin
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Wow! Very timely words based on the recent blackouts in India and the crippling effect that power outages have on the digital world. Even if you backed up your data, how would you access it? With sustainable, archivable paper!

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