I am quitting paper.
That’s right. For my change challenge, I will refusing to use paper from now on. I have been a big proponent of recycling paper in the past, but it is now time move past just recycling up the ‘value chain’, through reusing paper, to reducing my paper use. To zero.
For this challenge, I will be following three self-imposed rules:
- I will not take or accept paper if it given to me.
- I will not produce paper products, i.e. I will not print anything.
- If I cannot follow rules one and two, and there is an unavoidable use of paper, I will document the use of any paper that I do use, why I could not avoid it, how it could be avoided in the future, and importantly, do something about it.
It is my hope that I will be able to reduce my paper use to as close to zero as possible. In the process, I hope to, and plan on, facing down the barriers to eliminating my paper use. It is my hope that after I have completed this change challenge, I will have changed any barriers I find along the way to make it easier for others to go paperless as well.
Before anyone asks, this is not because I hate paper. I love paper. I have lots of paper and paper products. I love books, I love notes, I love the holding and reading paper. But there are two reasons why I have decided to try to eliminate paper from my life.
- Paper has a large environmental impact. As part of this challenge, I plan on examining exactly what that impact is (and how it compares with the alternative of using electronic media to store information), but suffice to say that using paper results in an input of trees (reducing carbon in forests), much energy to produce (again, carbon to produce that energy) and disposal in landfill when done with. While reduced when paper is recycled, there is still an impact from paper use. I want to eliminate this environmental impact.
- Paper is heavy and takes up too much space. A big motivator for me is that when I moved from Canada to the UK, over half of my personal stuff that I stored was books and paper. Seriously. More than clothes and sports gear combined, paper was my largest single source of stuff. I do not want to gather more paper, and hope to come out of this year in Cambridge with no increase in my already massive collection. The first step of dealing with an addiction is admitting you have a problem, and I freely and openly admit it here: I have a paper problem, and it now stops. I will move on from that ‘legacy technology’, and embrace new technology.
That is my challenge ahead, and why I am doing it. You can help me by calling me on my paper use. If you see me with paper in my hand, call me on it. Ask me where I got it, why I have it, could I have avoided it, have I documented it; all these questions will help me go paperless.
Thanks for joining my journey.