I see them all the time — those claims that you can switch from paper statements to electronic alternatives and save the environment. The one on my online banking page shows someone holding a tree seedling their hands, which I find particularly offensive. I’ve seen it hundreds of times. Today, it really struck me.
Part of it is love of paper. Part of it is love for the environment. A lot of it is about my love for truth.
So here’s what I wrote back this morning:
Can you please stop promoting paperless as “green” and environmentally friendly? Data servers draw massive amounts of power off the grid, and nearly all data servers are powered by coal, not by alternative energy. The more “cloud” we use, the more damage we do to the environment. By contrast, much of our paper comes from forests that have been sustainably managed and harvested, and two-thirds of the power used by paper mills is renewable energy. Some of our impact on the environment can’t be helped, but to promote electronic alternatives as environmentally preferable to paper is factually inaccurate and irresponsible. Both print and e-media have environmental footprints, just in different ways.
Is that going to do anything but disappear into the ether? No. But if we, as members of the printing industry and lovers of paper (and more importantly to banks, retailers, and other marketers, we are consumers), take five minutes to write notes or send comments, it can. One person speaking into a vacuum doesn’t accomplish much. But a consistent grassroots movement can.
Join me, will you? Say something!