Submitted: The Two Sides Team January 28, 2013
The assertion that paper use automatically equals environmental damage is a tired argument and is no longer defensible.
January 24 2013
by Andrew Field, via CNBC
The assertion that
paper use automatically equals environmental damage is a tired argument
and is no longer defensible. Marked improvement in paper and print
manufacturing has redefined the impacts this industry has on the
environment. Today’s savvy consumers are not easily duped by
unsubstantiated claims focused on vilifying an entire industry;
particularly when those pointing the finger are positioned to reap
monetary gain as a result.
recently joined forces with HelloFax, HelloSign, Manilla, Expensify,
Xero and Fujitsu ScanSnap in launching a campaign entitled “Go Paperless in 2013” under the guise of improving the environment. Many paper based industries are in an uproar over the move.
As a Montana based e-commerce commercial printing company, we at PrintingForLess.com have
a vested interest in green printing practices and sustainability. We
love our mountains, rivers, and gorgeous big skies. We are driven toward
continuous improvement. We are 100% wind-powered; utilize
vegetable-based inks, recycle, and lead the industry in sustainable
We also are somewhat partial to paper. We take to
task Google Drive, and the other chief players on the paperless crusade,
for willfully ignoring the facts with regard to paper’s sustainability
and for their failure to address their own significant environmental
impact. Why not launch a campaign we can all get behind, like “Go Green
in 2013” which would address the whole picture, not just a narrow
segment of usage?
The “Go Paperless in 2013” crusade has
oversimplified what it means to be environmentally responsible. This
good-guy, bad-guy routine is getting old. The reality is that both
electronic and paper based industries can, and do, coexist in the
Both impact the environment. Both need to work
toward continuous improvement. Environmental responsibility does not
mean that you are “paperless.” In fact, an intellectually honest
comparison of business communication methods will indicate that paper is
often the more sustainable choice. The facts about the sustainability
of paper are well documented in this open letter to Google Chairman of the Board and CEO Eric Schmidt. Get the full story behind how far the print industry has come in this informative flip book.
Yes, we agree; when it makes sense to go paperless, for example online
banking, by all means do so. But don’t overlook the fact that the
energy your devices are consuming to check your account status multiple
times are also having an impact on the environment.
Paperless in 2013” campaign lacks evidence and support for the entire
strategy. It reminds me of an even less informed version of Toshiba’s
notoriously failed No-Print Day.
Not only does the new “Go Paperless in 2013” campaign lack factual
integrity, it smacks of insincerity. Each of the “Go Paperless”
companies is positioned to reap financial benefits by shunning the use
of traditional communication methods, like paper. If these companies are
altruistically motivated, then why not focus on what their own industry
is doing to take corporate responsibility for the multiple billions of
kilowatt-hours of electricity they and their products consume per year?
As an e-commerce company, our relationship with Google is
well-established and mutually beneficial. Google is a fantastic company
that adds obvious value to businesses across all industries. However,
their alignment with the “Go Paperless in 2013” campaign is curious. We
are surprised by what we consider an irresponsible stand which flirts
with violating the FTC’s “Green Guides” that lay out rules for marketing
environmental language and claims. With respect, we urge Google and
their partners to seriously reconsider their campaign as its premise is
We are not cheerleading the waste of paper nor are we
shunning the legitimacy of digital business solutions. However the
declaration that going 100% paperless is the ultimate answer for
businesses looking to be environmentally responsible is in itself
Andrew Field is the President and CEO of Montana-based PrintingForLess.com and CNBC-YPO Chief Executive Network Member.
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