If you’ve wondered where the paperless office comes into the picture of green living or going green, here are some statistics. According to Conservatree, one tree produces over 8,300 sheets of copy and printing paper. That’s 24 trees required to make one ton of paper. In 2005 alone, the world consumed over 350 million tons of paper (RISI, 2007).
Reducing Paper Consumption Helps Your Bottom Line
Any action that reduces the consumption of paper, such as the move towards a paperless office, is an ecologically sound action. In fact, paper consumption in the US, and other developed countries, has begun to come down since 2000.
Paper documents need inks that come in plastic cartridges. Less paper documents mean less consumption of ink and less pollution from plastic. Minimizing paper usage also means reducing the number of printers, again saving on resources. By moving towards documentation practices that use a minimum of paper, you are in effect acting green. This not only helps the environment, but also improves your bottom line.
Paperless Office Through Digital Document Management Systems
Computer-based document management systems (DMS) can eliminate the use of paper to a great extent. In such a DMS, documents take the form of digital records on computer hard disks and other media. Modern computer media can store millions of pages in a compact space, replacing a very large quantity of paper.
Digital communication systems such as e-mails and instant messages eliminate the need to print out paper documents and physically send them to recipients. Instead of inter-office memos, you can chat or post notices on an on-line bulletin board or even speak on-line over the corporate computer network.
Even where some paper documents still remain, they can be converted into a digital format using a scanner. It has been estimated that scanning reduces paper use by one to three percent. This is in addition to the wholesale saving of paper by going for electronic document management systems.
Additionally, unless preserving the original paper document is a statutory need, it can then be shredded. The shredded paper can be used as packing material, reducing the need for such materials as Styrofoam pellets. Recycling materials in this way is another move towards going green.
When paper documents are reduced, you are also reducing the need for paper (or plastic) folders, filing cabinets, and similar incidentals. By reducing consumption, you are furthering the green cause in another way.