Go Green by Going Paperless
The drive to develop advanced technology has been met with a growing consciousness and concern over the environment. There is a conflict inherent between these two interests, since the advancement of technology tends to consume natural resources. Years ago the “paperless office” was forecasted and proclaimed as the way of the future. Today however bears little testament to that prediction, especially since paper consumption has actually increased instead of being eliminated.
The technology to reduce paper usage is readily available to all offices. However the technology responsible for increasing paper consumption such as printers and photocopiers is even more commonplace. Hawkins, Lovins & Lovins wrote in Natural Capitalism that the average office employee uses a sheet of paper every 12 minutes and disposes 100 to 200 pounds of paper every year. According to research done by the Environmental Paper Network, the paper industry is the fourth largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The same study found that an emission of 1.6 million tons of greenhouse gases could be prevented by cutting paper use in offices by just 10%. This mass consumption of paper is extremely wasteful, as well as detrimental to the environment in the long run.
The dream of the “paperless office” has come closer to reality within recent years. Technology such as OCR has gotten to the point where it is highly accurate and capable of processing an office level workload of documents. By converting documents into text searchable and editable files, document processing is streamlined. Information is made more accessible, reducing search times and increasing productivity. A paperless office is an ecologically friendly solution to inefficiency. Research has shown that given the current consumption rate of paper, it would take 178 million trees just for one year of paper usage. It is important to be able to progress scientifically and technologically, but not at the expense of the environment.