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Less Paper – Even Jerks Can Save the World


Reports of the death of paper have been highly exaggerated.

With the advent of electronic media, it was thought that every single thing would become digital and anything on paper would go the same route as the dodo.

To a certain degree, these prognostications were correct.

But not the whole way.

The use of paper has been increasing all the time.

The per capita use of paper also has been increasing all this time.

Now, is this good or bad?

Hard to say. But the persistence of paper is a fact!

Part of the reason the use of paper has increased in simply because the economic activities have increased, and the service sector, one of the largest uses of paper, has been growing much faster last few years.

So relax, let’s not get super alarmed at the growth of paper use, or be too concerned about our use of paper as well.

Many jerks like me still are more productive while using paper based documents, at least for select occasions.

It has indeed been shown that for some professions and activities, using paper based work and paper based materials have its advantages – one of the main reasons being that it saves you from the distractions that digital and electronic media constantly present.

So, don’t stop using paper. Just make sure you don’t use it when it is adding no value whatsoever.

Most times, you need paper when:

  • You need to do some intense editing that could be quite difficult to do on a PC or tablet (leave alone a smartphone)
  • When you are in some select locations where you would like to be unconnected to electronic devices
  • When you are involved in activities that require very high concentration – something most connected electronic devices simply tempt us away from!
  • You might also want to use paper if you feel that your eyes hurt a lot less while reading paper documents than these documents on digital equipment.

I am sure there are at least a few more occasions when the use of paper is warranted. But in most other cases, you can simply eliminate the use of paper or at lease use a lot less of it than what you do right now.

In India, where I live, I still get copies of the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting reports from many stocks I had invested in. Sheer, sheer waste, as I do not recall reading even one such report ever in the last 15 years – so essentially, at least 250 such reports (each about 50 pages) over this time frame has been completely wasted.

Over 10,000 sheets of paper – and just for one shareholder!

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Narasimhan Santhanam

Thank you for reading this post – hope it was helpful. You can connect with me at narsi@solarmango.com . My detailed profile here and my LinkedIn profile here

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