The advanced technology of today’s world is designed to help offices go paperless. But, about 95% of business information is still stored on paper. Printing and writing papers typically found in a school or office environment such as copier paper, computer printouts and notepads, comprise the largest category of paper product consumption and landfill waste. There’s still a long way to go before we lose our dependence on this human product.
Facts about Paper
The United States uses approximately 68 million trees each year to produce paper and paper products. It has 5% of the world’s population yet consumes more than 30% of the world’s paper.
A Sunday edition of the New York Times requires 75,000 trees. With a circulation of approx 1.2 million, this works out to about 16 copies per tree.
An estimated 18 million acres of forest are lost each year, equaling a loss of 20 football fields every minute.
Paper wrappings and Packaging makes up 1/3 or more of our trash and ends up in our landfills.
According to statistics, 16.23 million Americans use 6 or more packages of paper napkins every year.
When paper rots, it emits methane gas which is 25 times more toxic than CO2.
An average of 5 liters of water is needed to produce one piece of A4 paper.
Average worldwide annual paper consumption is 105 lbs. per person.
10,000 trees are cut down annually in China to make holiday greeting cards.
A man in his lifetime uses toilet paper which is made of about 384 trees.
Average U.S. office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year
45% of the paper printed in offices ends up trashed by the end of the day
Recycling 1 ton of paper saves around 682.5 gallons of oil, 26,500 liters of water and 17 trees. Recycling is important – however, while it does keep paper from the landfills, it does not necessarily save the environment. You cannot recycle paper indefinitely. Seven to ten times through is about the maximum before the fibers break down. There will always be a need for wood pulp to be added to the recycled.
Ways to Reduce Paper Waste
Recycle all your paper waste.
Switch to electronic billing. By switching to electronic bills, statements, and payments, the average household saves 6.6 pounds of paper, avoids producing 171 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions, and saves .079 of a tree annually.
Always reuse paper. If you’ve only used one side for example, collect them instead of throwing them away. You can bind these sheets and make a notebook using the other side. This small effort reduces paper waste by 50%.
Reduce the use of paper cups and disposable paper plates by keeping reusable items in the office pantry.
Take advantage of the latest technologies like tablets, computers and smart phones to keep your files and notes.
Switching to bathroom bidets could save some 15 million trees.
Encourage your officemates and friends to recycle their paper by putting them in recycling bins.
These small efforts on our part will be a valuable contribution in saving trees and the environment. The past is gone, but we still have time to change our future. With the use of modern technology such as document management software, electronic forms creators and mobile devices, we can drastically reduce our dependence on paper.
About the Author: Hardeep Kaur