These days it feels impossible to resist the urge to go completely paperless. It’s touted as the most environmentally friendly solution. And having all of your information in the cloud helps boost productivity.
But some employees are more comfortable with pen and paper. There’s a reason that attorneys still carry around thick legal pads full of notes. A notepad is instantly ready, always on, without using electricity. And it isn’t subject to hard drive failure or lost internet connections.
There’s still a place for paper in an environmentally sustainable workplace.
As mentioned above, if we relied on computers to entirely replace stationery we would be even more dependent on electrical power than we already are. You might not think that’s such a bad thing, especially as it’s possible to generate power using devices such as solar cells and wind turbines, but what about the knock-on effects?
Data created on computers eventually must be uploaded to cloud storage, where it is safest, or emailed to other businesses. These activities require the use of the internet and local area networks, and all of these rely on electricity. In fact, one email could require the use of power stations around the world as it travels from sender to receiver.
Of course, a single email not being sent will not mean that a server shuts down. But, every device connected to a server infrastructure require bandwidth and processing. Cumulatively, having computers on in the office, constantly connected, creates a demand on the broader IT infrastructure, which consumes increased power.
So, traditional paper products, if used instead of a computer or energy-inefficient laptop battery, could provide a net gain. The question is, what type of paper products are environmentally sustainable?
Choosing Environmentally Responsible Sources of Paper
The goal is to find a paper supplier that only sell responsibly sourced paper products. These items have been produced from trees that have been responsibly replaced. Even better, if you can find paper products produces from nearly 100% post-consumer waste. This means that the paper is a byproduct of recycling – almost completely eliminating the need for deforestation.
Diaries and calendars are excellent choices where paper makes more sense than a smartphone or computer. How many times do you power on your devices to check your schedule? A diary eliminates all these extra power on / off cycles – reducing power consumption. Plus, diaries and planners can be refilled with eco-friendly paper as needed. This means that a single diary can last generation, without the need for replacement, except for responsibly sourced paper.
Another thing to look for in a stationery supplier is a solid environmental policy. It’s important that the company only uses raw materials from reputable, established suppliers who are fully compliant with environmental legislation.
Create a Lasting Impression on Everyone You Meet
An additional benefit of using stationery – as opposed to purely computer-driven communication – in your business is that it provides a more personal, memorable experience for the recipient. Sending an email or a text is an everyday thing. But dropping a note on someone’s desk, thanking them for taking the time to help you, leaves a lasting, positive impression that stands out from the digital clutter of daily life.
On a final note, it is worth mentioning that some office data should always be backed up with hardcopies. This includes cash receipt books, visitor books and accident report books. Even if software versions of these exist, there could be a power failure – in which case it will be necessary to rely on hard copies. And securing a filing cabinet with a pad lock provides greater peace of mind than a bunch of techno babble about encryption and firewalls.
Responsible Business Decision-Making
Running a business is all about making decisions, and sometimes the right choice isn’t the obvious one. When it comes to deciding how much stationery to purchase for a business it is always worth factoring in costs, usefulness, environmental impact and longevity. And in this way, it is possible to work out if a purchase is necessary.
The chances are that you will decide that stationery still has its place in your business, even if only in a limited way. You may even believe, as many others do, that there is something to be said for the old-fashioned art of writing with pen and paper, as opposed to punching information into a computer.