World Paper Free Day is celebrated each year on November 6th, with the objective to alert businesses on the amount of paper they use and encourage them to reduce paper waste. This is a call for businesses and consumers all over the world to avoid using paper for the entire day. The sponsor of the event, AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) has conducted various researches on the over-reliance of paper for business and identified that ‘Going Paperless‘ can provide huge benefits in terms of efficiency, collaboration, and well-being.
Initiative to Reduce Paper Use
Though this initiative, AIIM aims to show how much paper is wasted every year, and how well we can manage our business without using it. Their estimates reveal that almost 4 billion trees are cut down each year to produce around 300 million tons of paper, and if not addressed immediately will have a huge environmental impact that will continue to leave its mark year after year. If everyone went paper-free even for a day, it would save 821,918 tons of paper and 10,958,904 trees, AIIM says. More than 100 individuals including some of the world’s business giants such as IBM, Accenture and HP have come forward to join the initiative and have pledged to go paper-free — not just for the day, but for always.
The very first initiative for eliminating paper from business offices was made in the 1970s when American writer and futurist Alvin Toffler declared that “Making paper copies of anything is a primitive use of machines and violates their spirit”. From that time onwards, businesses have been working towards creating paperless offices, where documents are scanned and converted to digital format and backed up in secure data management systems.
The Digitization Advantage
Perhaps we can’t eliminate the use of paper completely, but on this world paper free day we can think a bit harder regarding the constructive measures that can be implemented to reduce the use of paper. Digitization and proper document management in workplaces can address the issues posed by paper documentation to a great extent.
A paper-based system does have some negative aspects:
- Improperly arranged files often lead to delays in data processing
- Causes increased processing times and thus adversely affects the organization’s productivity and profit
- Difficulty for employees to access information simultaneously
- Increased need for physical storage
- Lack of data security and possible loss of data
The above drawbacks of paper-based systems call for digitized documents in office settings.
Constructive Measures to Minimize Paper Use
AIIM has come up with some measures for reducing the use of paper.
- Businesses should be aware of the environmental and productivity gains of going paperless. Fifty percent of the respondents in AIIM’s research revealed that lack of management initiatives or mandates to reduce the use of paper is one of the major reasons for the increased use of paper.
- Around 60% of the respondents said that paper copies of documents are mainly used in meetings. If tablets are used for meeting agendas and supporting documents, the issue can be addressed effectively.
- Reduce “to do” notes and lists, using outlook calendars and apps such as Evernote.
- Use digital signatures instead of physical signatures.
- Emphasize the role of paper-free processes in improving the business improvement initiatives.
So, on this World Paper Free Day, let us together make a pledge to go paper free to reduce environmental degradation and also ensure a smoother workflow for businesses.