Monday, August 03, 2009

Rant on Saving Paper...

I took this pic while I got some printouts for my uncle say half a year ago. I had asked for a cover for the printouts for which the shopkeeper had given me this.

Just have a look... You might have it elsewhere too...

It says, every ton of paper, uses 17 trees, 463 gallons of oil, 4077 KW of energy, 6953 gallons of water, 587 pounds of air (which gets polluted later) and acquires 3.06 cubic yards of space.
(Source: American Forest and Paper Association)

When one can store data electronically, why use paper which consumes so much of resources? Some of you might argue that even electronic data uses power and even that has a carbon trace. Carbon trace by electronic media is much lesser than that of paper. (If I'm wrong, kindly correct me)

Now, when you say paper consumption, what are the major areas paper gets consumed?

1. Newspapers/ Magazines/ Journals.

2. Notebooks (books in general).

3. Files maintained/Printouts taken by government and private enterprises.

4. Tissue papers ( or napkins as some say)

Have I left out any? Hoping that I've covered major chunk of it, lemme continue in discussing how can we minimize such usage.

1. Newspaper, People are going electric and many news firms have an "e" version of their newspaper. In the west, many have gone with e-papers banning hard copies of news, which is a step ahead towards saving our ecosystems.

(Many may have counter arguments which says, to save revenue, Even that might be the reason sometimes, but we should be happy that it saves the environment a bit)

Here in India, the younger generation might be okay with papers going online but those elders (exception always do exist) dislike such a change. They just want things as they were before. They find it hard to go to the PC/laptops, start the browser, type the address/click on their bookmark, login and read their newspaper. They find it easy to pick the hard copy which is delivered to their doorsteps by the delivery boy.

Newsgroup companies may feel that they may be under loss if they go online as one just logs in and reads their content. If they want to make money, they may charge a few bucks for the registered customers on a monthly/yearly basis which works out for both the parties (I strongly don't think this is gonna happen coz, news is available for free on the net, anybody would hardly pay and read) May be they can attract the customers by saying that we deliver you the complete, detailed news, first... Those will be market strategies which I'm not interested in...

Even if they do not charge, they might always get some money by going for ads on the net.

To sum it up,

Advantages of papers going online:
1. Saves lots of paper.
2. Saves the cost for the company for door-to-door deliveries.
3. Faster delivery.
4. Saves space.

1. Not all can read the content.
2. Media may go for a loss (If they do not go for ads and are giving a free a service).
4. Jobs of delivery boys are at stake.
5. Petty shop owners will have less papers to parcel.
6. housewives cannot get the money they get by selling old papers.

2. Books:this is another major part where paper is getting used. I might dissappoint a huge lot (even myself) when I say that books acquire a lot of space, and consume lots of resources as mentioned before. When we can save them, why can't we go for it?

So, again, what are the ways we can do such things. Let us split them into two parts.
a. Printed books (usually novels, texts that you read)
b. notebooks onto which you write.

Consider the printed books. How can we save them from getting printed?

1. Going online as newspaper. If you do not have any copyrighted material or you want everybody to know about your content, why not go online for free. You've got blogs, you can create your own websites...

2. If you own a copyright of the material, one can charge an amount to those interested and allow them to download the content. Terms and conditions apply to the consumer (He shouldn't make illegal copies of the content neither he should sell it. Add on more clauses you want)

3. If one finds it tedious to read from laptop/PC, you have devices like kindle, for your ease. I've heard its an amazing tool. try it out if you're interested.

4. All hardbound books can be digitized so that they can be stored in your CDs, DVDs, SSDs, HDDs whatever electronic media you're comfy with so that you can save the space taken by books.

When it comes to notebooks,

1. If you are taking notes on a book, I suggest you to carry a laptop. Nowadays, governments are planning 'one laptop per child' joining hands with MNCs like Intel, while some institutions like IISc, are planning some projects like a laptop for Rs. 1000. Hence, whatever notes one takes in class can be digitized using laptops. (Of course, one might do other things as well in the name of laptop, thats issue of ethics, let us not take it any further in this post)

2. Adding onto the last point, the burden on the student's back will be less. Many books will be replaced with one laptop which is an additional advantage.

To sum it up,

Advantages of storing books digitally:

1. Takes less space.
2. Weighs less.
3. Ease of access.
4. Ease of editing.
4. Easy to handle, sort, manage library...


1. Some might find it hard to gaze constantly at the CRT/LED screen.
2. Some won't find it a pleasing experience as of reading a book holding it in hand (If they cannot afford gadgets like Kindle).

3. Files maintained in Government and private firms, again, these can be stored electronically, even transactions can be made online. Issuing receipts, acknowledgments all can be done electronically. Almost all points discussed previously hold true here.

Regarding printouts, take them only when necessary. I've seen many taking printouts of huge texts in the corporate world just because they can't read the e-version. Ease rules over eco-friendly. Please don't do that.

1. Saves space.
2. Eases the transactions.

1. Not so educated people might suffer with the process. Government can educate them in this regard.
2. crime rate over transactions made might increase if proper security measures are not taken.

4. Tissue papers, sad to say that tissue paper culture has increased with the boom in IT since late 90s and early 2000s. It has become a norm to place a tissue paper container in all the restrooms. Some make complete(over) use of it. Some take 4-5 tissues once and just hover over their face once and throw it onto the dustbins. Lots of paper is getting wasted in such a filthy manner.

Alternatives are many.

Electric hot air blow, which ejects a jet of hot air everytime you keep your hands under it. This saves paper but consumes lots of power, thats a demerit.

Some hotels provide cloth that can be washed instead of tissues. This saves paper a lot while some amount of water gets consumed in washing them. Durability is lot, lot better (incomparable with paper). That's a plus point.

What I suggest is, I add onto the second point mentioned above. Instead of them providing a cloth, you can yourself carry a hand-kerchief saving lots of public resources.

I don't think this has any disadvantages as such but advantages, which are listed above with the alternatives.

To end the post, I suggest you to save paper and other natural resources as much as you can.

Now, the stage is open for your opinion/critics/suggestions. Please...


The Self-Proclaimed Wordsmith said...

I agree with you - I take print-outs as rarely as possible, have a Kindle and carry a handkerchief whenever I remember to. I think electronic devices are becoming more efficient in terms of power consumption and being easy to read (I find that computer monitors strain my eyes after a few hours of reading).

Alternatively, if you have to use paper, recycle it - I don't know what options exist in India for recycling, though. If it's a pain to recycle, I don't see people doing it very often, if ever at all.

Sandesh said...

@TSPW - Glad to know that you follow eco-friendly steps. Thanks for the comments. =)

Inferno said...

Churumuri: A blog that does nothing but ridicule. It has nothing of relevance, just a few commentators who have to offer their sound-bytes on all things all the time. I appeal to all to stop commenting on that blog, or do so sparingly.

Sandesh said...

@inferno: Yeah! I do it sparingly...