Hate False Paperless Claims? Say Something!

By | April 26, 2013

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!

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7 thoughts on “Hate False Paperless Claims? Say Something!

  1. Mary Beth Smith

    Yes, it’s time to stand up and roar about this. On Earth Day, I tweeted Two Sides US’s blog about this to my bank, my utilities and my telecom company, as well as other selected “targets”. Today I will do the same thing with your article.

    Collectively, we will eventually be heard by the offending companies. In the meantime, every time each of us reposts these articles through our individual social media networks, our friend and family are becoming more educated about the issue.

    Thanks, Heidi!

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    Agreed. That’s why they bother me so much. I don’t mind that companies want us to go paperless — we’re all trying to be as efficient with our budgets as possible — but I wish they’d just be honest with us about the reasons. I’m much more likely to reward honesty and respect (because that’s what honesty is — treating me, as a customer, with respect) than greenwashing.

  3. Shelly Houston

    I too get frustrated when I hear someone’s excuse for not using printed materials as “we’ll save a tree”. This is at the bottom of every email I send:

    Please Note: It is OK to print this email.
    Paper is a biodegradable, renewable, sustainable product made from trees.
    Growing and harvesting trees provides jobs for millions of men & women.
    Working forests are good for the environment, providing clean air, clean water,
    wildlife habitat and carbon storage. When you don’t need it anymore, please be
    sure to recycle it, and it will come back to us as new paper!

    I try to educate my customers when I get a chance 🙂

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