You’ve probably heard about World Car Free Day. Every year, on September 22, drivers around the world are encouraged to leave their cars in the parking lots and try other means of transportation like buses or their own feet. This initiative has done a lot of good, not only because once every year there are fewer cars on the streets, but also because it raises awareness of how much damage the industry causes and reminds us all that city streets were originally designed for people, not cars. Skeptics might say, “Well, that’s all very good, but what does it change in the grand scheme of things?” But over the 22 years since the day was established, dozens of cities around the world have introduced car-free areas, and a few have even banned cars altogether. This excellent environmental initiative is not the only one worthy of attention, though. Today, we’d like to talk about a lesser known but no less important event — World Paper Free Day.
World Paper Free Day: How It Started
World Paper Free Day was established by a nonprofit organization called AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) in 2010. The initiative was launched to raise awareness of the increased paper consumption and to encourage people to cut down on paper using new-age technology both at home and at the office. Since then, World Paper Free Day has been held annually in many countries across the globe.
Why It Matters
It might seem strange in our digital age and given the rising awareness of environmental issues, but in the last four decades, paper consumption has increased by 400%. Here are just a few facts to illustrate why this growth is detrimental for the planet:
- Over 40% of the world’s industrial logging goes into paper production.
- Every year, approximately 3,500,000 hectares of forest are cut for this purpose. This is an area slightly bigger than Belgium and 45 times as large as New York city.
- Just one A4-sized sheet of paper takes 20 liters of fresh water to produce.
- Paper production is the world’s third largest energy consumer.
- Paper accounts for nearly 30% of all the waste humans produce.
What Can We Do?
As we’ve mentioned before, raising awareness should be the number one priority. Most people who still remain indifferent to environmental problems do not do so maliciously. In 99 cases out of a 100, they simply lack information. It might be difficult to find motivation and time for research and eco-activism while holding two jobs and raising three kids. Raising awareness is key because the more people know about the problem and its importance, the more likely they are to change their behavior and provide support for the cause. This is exactly why initiatives like World Paper Free Day are so important.
Luckily, raising awareness is simple, easy, and free. Share informative, persuasive articles and videos, post on social media, and talk to friends and colleagues. We recommend mixing surprising facts about environmental problems with direct calls to action.
Go Paper Free at Home and at the Office
We will omit the importance and benefits of going paperless. If you’re still reading, the chances are high that you already know them all. Instead, we’d like to share experiences and tips that might be useful. So, diving straight into it, in our experience, going paperless consists of two equally important steps: cutting down on paper and digitizing.
Reduce Incoming Paper Flow
Paper that comes into our homes usually belongs to one of the three main categories:
- Receipts and invoices
- Mail, including junk mail
Receipts can be dealt with pretty easily by implementing a simple rule: if a receipt has no importance to you, don’t take it. Tell the cashier that you don’t need one or dispose of it right away. If you need a receipt for tax or expense reports, we recommend digitizing. The good news is there’s no need to take it home or to the office with you to scan it because nowadays we have mobile scanning apps. We have a relevant post about how to deal with paper receipts here. As for paper invoices, you can eliminate them by contacting your providers and requesting digital versions be sent to your email address.
Mail poses more of a problem because we get a lot of mail we never asked for. Everyone knows how annoying a mailbox overflowing with ads, coupons, booklets, etc. can be. The great news is that you can opt out of receiving marketing mail, pre-approved credit forms, and even telemarketing calls. You will need to contact several organizations, but the saved paper, tidy mailbox, and inner peace are definitely worth the effort.
PCmag.com has a wonderful and concise article about how to go digital. According to them (and it makes perfect sense), in order to go paperless you need only five apps:
- An app to make to-do lists
- A cloud service
- A scanning app
- A digital signature tool
- A note-taking app
The good news is that with carefully chosen apps, only two or three can suffice! An app like iScanner can cover all your needs in terms of scanning, e-signing, and note-taking. Some cloud services come with a mobile scanner, although they lack signature and editing tools, so it really depends on what you need more. If you sign and edit documents a lot and need your cloud storage mostly for documents, then a solid scanning app is the perfect option for you. Plus, some apps like iScanner allow you to save documents on your Google Drive or iCloud.
The most important thing with digitizing is to adopt the habit of scanning everything. Once it becomes second nature, the rest will follow. A widget on the home screen can be of help — it will remind you of your new habit every time you unlock your phone. Plus, it creates a handy shortcut. In the iScanner app, you can set the widget to take you to your files or to the scanning screen in just one tap.
On a final note, we invite you to join us in celebration of the World Paper Free Day and spread the word about it as widely as possible! This World Paper Free Day, iScanner is launching a social media campaign. From November 4 to 6, we will post interesting facts and helpful tips about how to go paperless. Please don’t hesitate to share your own tips with us — add comments to our posts on our social media. We’re looking forward to sharing thoughts and ideas with like-minded people.