Does going paperless really means going green?

Going paperless - Does going paperless necessarily means going green?
@ahgong (10086)
Singapore
March 31, 2009 3:27am CST
Does going paperless really equate to going green? I was sitting down the other day when this thought came into mind. When we go paperless, it means that to view the document, we would have to do the following: 1) Power up the computer. 2) Open the document and view it on your monitor. When you are done, you off the PC. Then when you want to share the document, you have to do the following: 1) Power up the computer. 2) Copy out the document to some media (disks, floppy, thumb drives...etc) OR 2) Send out and email with that document attached. 3) Receiving person would have to then power up their PC to view the document. And it repeats every time a document is shared. Even when that document is share among people you know, say, within the family. Each time some one wants to view that document, the PC has to be powered up. And each time the PC is powered up to view the document, you use electricity. And electricity is generated by... yes, you guessed it, fuel. So, is going paperless really equates to going green? In my opinion, this would really depend on what that document is, isn't it? Say for example, a set of news paper. If shared among many people, it is just one set of newspaper. But if you were to view the same news in the soft copy format, you would have to power up the PC as many times as the news is viewed. In this case, isn't the printed newspaper more environmentally friendly? And to add to that, the paper that the news is printed on is recycled anyways. What do you think?
3 people like this
21 responses
31 Mar 09
As with many things, it's a question of scale. In a single home with individual documents, it might not make as much sense as in a huge office with 500 people. If every one of those employees printed out a single page, that's a ream of paper gone. If they all look at the page on a screen, it's a bit of electricity. If you look at it in extreme situations, such as having to switch on the PC specifically for each document, it's obviously less valuable. However, if that document is already there when you switch on your PC, along with a dozen others in your email, that's less printing for the price of a bit of electricity that you would have used anyway.
1 person likes this
@ahgong (10086)
• Singapore
15 May 09
If you put it that way, it does make some sense. But knowing people, even with a soft copy, they'd still print it out anyways just before they go to the meeting requiring them. Sigh... if only there is a better and more effective way of lowering out consumption of resources eh?
@mentalward (14716)
• United States
31 Mar 09
I've often had the same thoughts as you've expressed here. Going paperless means nothing if you exchange paper for electricity, unless that electricity comes from a renewable power source such as solar power, wind or hydro-power. Depleting our home (Earth) of unrenewable power sources (such as oil or coal) is worse, in my opinion, than using a method that is constantly renewed. My home office is powered by solar energy, for the most part. My husband and son recently installed telephone and cable outlets in my office, along with a ceiling fan/light which are not powered by solar energy... yet! I would love to someday have my whole home powered by solar energy and maybe even install a windmill or two since it is often quite windy here. (We live in the mountains.) I've had a computer crash twice, once because someone hacked into it and once due to lightning, so I no longer rely solely on it for saving important documents, but I do not like printing everything out, either. So, I generally back up important documents by burning them onto a CD... just in case. I don't feel bad about turning on the computer or monitor because that energy comes from the sun. I'm closely monitoring a company that is making solar panels that can be printed out as needed from a special printer. These panels (more like sheets) are MUCH less expensive than traditional panels but are currently only available on an industrial basis. They are supposed to become available to the general public sometime this year. I hope so, because I'd love to tell the electric company where they can shove it!
@ahgong (10086)
• Singapore
15 May 09
Hell yeah, if going green could allow me to do that, I would definitely do it! And be green at the same time! Yeah... (chuckling), I would love to see the day where I can call up my electric company and tell them to shove it! That look on their faces would be priceless! Do share the info on the solar panel. It sounds really interesting!
• Singapore
31 Mar 09
Hey there ahgong. The point of going paperless is to reduce the amount of paper used to print out and mail your bills monthly. Every piece of paper saved eventually leads to less trees being cut, thus preserving the environment. So yes going paperless does equate to going green. While it is true that power is consumed turning on the pc, it is highly unlikely that you use the pc exclusively to check your online bills, then turning it off once you saw your bill. The fact that you visit mylot means you do other things with your pc, so if you multi task and opened up your email to check on your bill, and post on mylot at the same time, eventually you save up on energy. Same principle applies with regards to the newspaper you mentioned. Safe and clean alternative fuels is still the way to go if we want to keep this planet alive longer. But until the scientist comes up with that, we have to make do with the small things that we can to help our environment. Cheers!
1 person likes this
@34momma (13918)
• United States
31 Mar 09
i think there is always going to be a upside and a downside to everything. i just think that if the upside is not as bad as the downside then why not give it a chance. i don't mind using recycled paper. i don't mind reading everything on the computer. of course something you would need a paper copy of and that is fine. but i am with anything that is going to make this world a better, cleaner, and greener place to live in
• United States
23 Apr 09
One thought I have about the paper vs. paperless world: What is more harmful to our environment, paper that is recyclable or millions of dicarded PCs? The PC is not "green," is it?
@JenInTN (27565)
• United States
15 May 09
Hi ahgong! I think that going paperless is just the beginning of living green. You would have to be powered by windmill or solar panels for it to make a real difference. I would like to think that by not using paper it would make me a green liver but in truth it is only part of what should be done.
@vworld4u (144)
• India
1 Apr 09
Yes! I agree with you in your thoughts. I also feel it depends on the location, type of usage of paper and many other factors when we tell go green! For a small paper work like what you told in your thoughts, it is better to go for a paper rather than computer. But imagine a office which has a computer worker who enters all the transactions to the computer and saves it and takes printout of it to distribute it for signing and reviewing of officers or to some other offices by manual dispatching system? There comes saving of papers! We can save paper and use computer and networking for better use there. Anyway computer is up and running and we should network different desks and offices and officers so that they can start using the existing technology well to avoid more papers!
@subha12 (18463)
• India
1 Apr 09
I think not really green. totally. But there is something in it. We mean paperless is going green because directly paper is involved there. So papers that we use are made from cutting trees. In that way we are destroying green.But this PC can add up to global warming.
@kun2349 (23475)
• Singapore
1 Apr 09
Yeah, u are very right.. Going paperless does not mean that we are going green.. haha =D Just like, we are eating vegetables but that does not mean we are vegetarians either.. lol =D BUt in a way, i guess it going green means we are not using much of papers, so that we can save more trees.. Let nature be part of nature and not chop them anymore.. Furthermore, there are ple whom does not know how to recycle paper or make use of them in the right way.. As such, we can only be encouraged to use less.. haha =D
• China
1 Apr 09
it's stupid to power ur pc again & again. if someone want to get the share, just send him email. Or if u want to share ur documents, just put them in ur flash disk or disk on line. So u can avoid starting ur pc again.
• Indonesia
1 Apr 09
Yes, of course, being paperless is means green. Paper need tree to build it. Tree can use as convert CO2 gas to O2 gas so it can reducing global warming, Although paperless increase electricity demand, but we can replace, the fossil generator electricity buy the renewable alternative like solar,win,tidal,wave and etc. It much faster to change this, but is slower the tree grow to replace the other one. To deforestation it can take 10-20 years but we can develop more power by 5 year, so what is greener?
@wulung (1)
• Indonesia
1 Apr 09
Yes of course. In my country Indonesia alot of trees already gone to papermill and no meaningfull restoration program whatsoever. All I see in my country media and surveys is decreasing on trees precentages on my country forest. Logs smuggling is common stories on media, not to add a corrupted officials who should be watch for it. With vast amount of forest, people can easily cut and transport it via a river then load it to a ship and sell it to papermill. Altough there is a rule for a logs trasporter, it's easy to get forged documents for it. As of electricity, in my country it is mostly water generated powerline, so it is more green as I can see. As for newspaper, or printed media in more common terms, because it's cheaper to get new paper than using recycled one, most printed media in Indonesia using new paper. Also, our recycling technology is not advanced enough to produce a nice and cheap recycled paper for the mass. So, it's more green in my country by going paperless.
@youless (86445)
• Guangzhou, China
1 Apr 09
What you said is reasonable. However, nothing can be perfect. For example, Earth Hour suggests people to shut down the lights for an hour. If so, we need something to replace the light, such as the candle. That means to say even if we save the electricity, but isn't it a cost for a candle? I think it's the same in this topic. However, I still think that using more computer can use less paper and it's still better for the environment. As the paper come from the trees. And trees give us many benefits, such as the oxygen. The electricity can be created by a clean way, such as the water and solar. As long as the electricity is created, it is a waste not to use it. I love China
@youless (86445)
• Guangzhou, China
1 Apr 09
What you said is reasonable. However, nothing can be perfect. For example, Earth Hour suggests people to shut down the lights for an hour. If so, we need something to replace the light, such as the candle. That means to say even if we save the electricity, but isn't it a cost for a candle? I think it's the same in this topic. However, I still think that using more computer can use less paper and it's still better for the environment. As the paper come from the trees. And trees give us many benefits, such as the oxygen. The electricity can be created by a clean way, such as the water and solar. As long as the electricity is created, it is a waste not to use it. I love China
• United States
1 Apr 09
i think its green for people like me that are on the pc a lot anyways to where it wouldnt be adding to the usage
@applefreak (3133)
• Singapore
1 Apr 09
well i guess it goes both ways doesn't it? paperless is green for things like bills and promotional flyers. these are things that we look only once and throw away. this is especially true for bills for utilities and services. i subscribe to electronic bills whenever possible as i don't need the paper form of it. however, i print out things that i will refer to again and again. as for newspaper, there are advantages to the e-version too. the account can be shared amongst people not living together. they might even be living in different countries. all you need is the id and password to access the news. isn't this better than the paper form?
• Australia
31 Mar 09
The power needed to run a computer is far less than the power required to print anything. Added to that, looking at something on the screen also saves using paper, so you have two savings. For most people, they are on the computer for work or study anyway , so it is easy to view documents and send them via email if necessary. It's not as if you are simply running the computer to view the document, you already have the computer on in order to do your work or study.
• China
31 Mar 09
you are just like me, always think about something big and something about our world and our society instead of personal things. in my humble opinion, going paperless means going green, almost all the time. say newspaper for instance, nowadays the newspaper comes more and more pages. I don't know about how heavy a copy of newspapers it is, it weights more or less one pound. how much wood dose it need for a copy of newspaper? how many tree does it need for 100 copies of newspaper. how important trees for the environment. and don't forget that it wastes energy too when they are printed. It just cost a little to have the entire copy of new put on a website, the cyber world. and every body could read it by using their computer connected to internet. anyone could read it after it is put on the internet with their computer. the larger the circulation the newspaper is, the more materials it saves having them on the internet. in our daily life, the best way to go green is living as more economically as possible. of course, we should also use energy saving products.
@ada547612 (203)
• China
31 Mar 09
Now, more and more into the network society, if there is a day access to our paperless, really means that our society has entered the environmental protection of society! The utilization of the computer will then accordingly increased. An environmentally-friendly and time-saving!
• India
31 Mar 09
A good thought. As a matter of fact human will have to ultimately depend on nature's resources. Its just about using one instead of other. So ultimately by 'going green' actually means that we are saving the wood and burning electricity which comes from nuclear fuel, water or coal-all of which are natural resources.
@PinkyPosh (226)
• Canada
31 Mar 09
Yea, I agree that to refer to soft copies, we need to power up the computer, copy the docs in a media, send the attachement, power off the system etc etc. But how ofter you will be referring to these documents. There are documents that are issued regularly but are referred very rarely. Is it not worth putting these documents into the system which will be required once in a blue moon?? And again, dO you think that we switch on and switch off the system only when documents are required? And we don't use our system for any other purpose? As it is, we are completely dependant on the system for anything and everything. So I believe that the system is in the 'on state' for almost 70% of the time when we are awake. And using this in between for referring documents would not cost us much I guess and I personally feel that paperless would definitely contribute to a greater extent for going green.