Paper has been of great significance in our society for year. From office documents to school books, from newspapers to magazines, bills to tickets, all have been based on papers ever since. It has become a part of life that people have to contend with due to its various uses. Almost all schools use paper at least for one use. However, there has been a push for a paperless world that is slowly taking shape. Ancient ticketing and billing technologies that used papers are rapidly being replaced by digital methods. Schools systems and curriculums are also being digitized which signifies that the need for paper is slowly fading. Offices have not been left behind, digital and electronic methods of saving data and documents are being developed at a higher rate than ever due to the sudden demand and the migration from analogue methods to a more digital world.
In deed paper has almost shaped people's way of life. We are taught to put pen on paper when we are young, grow up reading curriculum books and in our adulthood read newspapers and receive bills on paper. With such numerous uses, paper is one of the largest pollutants of our environment. It is almost impossible to walk for a kilometer without spotting a paper by the road. Landfills are also filled with paper used for various uses. Some are old newspapers, outdated curriculums and expired contracts all in paper form. When these giant piles of paper are burnt, they emit carbon to the atmosphere hence contributing to the greenhouse effect. Needless to state, paper is originally made from trees hence the production process of paper increases the rate of deforestation to meet the paper demand and ultimately result to climate change and desertification (Dubose, 2012).
People have formed an attachment with the paper systems which is why some people and larger companies are against a paperless world. In the event of a paperless world, many companies that deal with paper and paper products would collapse due to lack of market. Publishers of school curriculum books would be greatly affected if reading and writing were digitized in schools. For that reason, the people and companies that are against the paperless world are trying to safeguard their welfares in this conflict of interest. Abandoning the use of paper however does not mean that the environment would be safer since electronics also do breakdown and form a big percentage of e-waste in the landfills. However, the rate at which papers affect the environment is way higher than electronics would do. Electronics can handle thousands of tasks and commands while a paper is only used ones and disposed. Incentives such as; reduced prices of digital equipment, free training on new machines, financial assistance for companies interested in adopting a paperless system and monetary rewards for those who adopt a paperless lifestyle would play a significant role in converting more people towards a paperless lifestyle (Dubose, 2012).
A paperless existence would have both positive and negative implications. One of the positive implications in a more environmental friendly way of life where trees are not cut for paper processing nor papers burnt in landfills. This would significantly reduce the rate of global warming due to increased forest cover and less carbon emissions from burning landfills. Another advantage is efficiency. Digital machines are quicker and more efficient unlike paper work which may be prone to errors and loss (Dubose, 2012). Electronic documents eliminate the need for physical space to store files hence saves on both cost and money. A paperless existence however has is own disadvantages as well. Paper provides a cheap way of processing documents. Electronics on the other hand may be quite expensive to buy hence many people are reluctant to buying them. Another disadvantage is that electronics have a learning curve that a user has to learn before using it. In some cases, individuals see them to be complicated unlike paper work which is straight forward. A paperless existence would therefore be complicated. Finally, while paper only requires one to have a pen to write, electronics need other infrastructures such as electricity and spare parts which may be an expensive endeavor to sustain thus disadvantaging the paperless existence.
- Dubose, R. (2012). Legal writing for the rewired brain : persuading readers in a paperless world. Dallas: Texas Lawyer.