Imagine six 40-foot tall trees lined up in a row. Now imagine that these trees represent the paper equivalent of how much paper you typically consume in a year. Before you balk at the suggestion that you could consume that many trees in a single year, consider for a moment how much printing and faxing you typically do in a day...week…month.
Well, all that paper adds up. And according to The Economist, it adds up to almost six 40-foot trees a year – give or take half a tree. Looking at this sobering statistic, one thing’s clear: Americans – like so many other people around the world – have a serious paper problem.
But it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Just 30 years ago, people were predicting that computers would make paper obsolete.
Picture it: The year is 1980 and computers are gaining mainstream attention. Literature on how to run a paperless office or household is popping up everywhere. And a new shift toward digital communication and storage is calling into question the relevancy of paper in a digital world.
Instead of decreasing, however, paper consumption surged. According to The Economist, “Global paper consumption has increased by half [since 1980].”
So, what the heck happened? Why do so many offices and households today continue to rely on an old technology that increases rather than decreases paper consumption?
Reducing Paper Consumption at the Office
At present, businesses are expected to not only “explain their information-sharing practices to their customers…but also safeguard sensitive information,” according to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999.
But what does legislation like the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act mean for the digital age? And more importantly, what does it mean when the most convenient method of delivery – the internet – offers speed but fails to keep private information safe?
For almost three decades now, it has meant that the only way to send sensitive information was via an old-fashioned fax machine. But what many of us failed to notice was the impact that traditional faxing had on paper consumption.
It is generally estimated that U.S. paper usage for faxing is equivalent to 3,000 times the height of the Empire State Building.
Businesses looking to send and read confidential data online – without the use of paper – can turn to an email-to-fax service, like eFax, for fast, safe and secure faxing.
Email-to-fax services offer the convenience of email – except your faxes won’t act like email. They’ll print to traditional fax machines, like real faxes. Add a cover sheet or send your documents alone, using one of two standard transmission methods:
- Online via an internet-connected computer
- Online via a fax app
Reducing Paper Consumption at Home
According to the University of Southern Indiana, “The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year.”
One of the best ways to reduce paper consumption at home is to switch from a paper filing system to a digital one. Keeping documents pertaining to your finance, taxes, and major life events on a hard drive lets you maintain greater control over your private information. And with cloud storage, you can create and maintain an archiving system that spans across multiple categories, dates and types of documents.
It’s a good practice to add a password to protect the privacy of your documents, particularly if you will be sharing your computer with others. If you’re still reluctant to make the switch from paper to digital, you may want to consider these benefits:
- Easily retrieve and manage your files from anywhere
- Use digital folders to conveniently organize your files by category
- Send documents back and forth between your computers
- Store 10,000 documents per gigabyte of storage
- Cut down on printing
Finally, it’s important to note that digital files work seamlessly with fax apps. Simply attach your file and send it like you would regular email. eFax’s award-winning fax app even lets you archive and store faxes for free.
Ralph Waldo Emerson put it best when he said, "Moderation in all things." While we may not be able to curb our addiction to paper entirely, we can minimize it.
So, before you send another fax out the old-fashioned way, sign up for an online fax service and send it over the internet instead. You’ll save time, paper, and ultimately, a lot of trees!
And who knows – this time next year, a new infographic might show that U.S. paper usage for faxing has decreased to just 2,000 times the height of the Empire State Building!
Get started with a free trial of eFax and reduce your paper consumption today!