Friday, April 6, 2012

The Paperless Age?

This is a long post, but well worth a look at the stats.  It's from the website, TechSoup.  Since their mission is to desseminate this information, I've taken the liberty of re-posting it on my blog.  For other interesting stuff, you may want to visit which is a non-profit that helps non-profits.  Your local library may benefit from knowing about Tech Soup if they don't already.  But....I digress.

Our trees in the foreground.  The neighbor's landscape on the hillside.

The once-pristine hillside across the road from us out here JOTOLR, was--three years ago--a beautiful hardwood forest, covered with all manner of native species of Appalachian hardwood trees.  Today, it is a dry, scarred and ugly ruin.  It is trampled daily by bovine hooves, nipping already scarce greenery to the nub; machinery goudges tracks randomly over the tortured ground which never has an opportunity to heal.  

The logging trails bleed out the moisture that once collected beneath living roots.  How I mourn the deaths of those once-proud trees and the no-longer-beautiful landscape.  For two years we arose daily to the sound of roaring chainsaws and the "whumps" of falling giants.  Today, it is silent.  There are no more trees to cut.  There is a scant covering of spindly grass every spring about now, but it quickly fades as summer's heat withers the remaining sprigs, and the color changes rapidly from green to brown,  It's a graveyard of unearthed boulders and stumps. 

And you know where the trees went? To make pulp for paper. All of it.

I find it amazing that long ago, we entered the "paperless" age.    Predictions of "saving trees" thanks to sophisticated technology were rife.  Have these predictions materialized?   Have a look at what TechSoup calls a set  of "shocking" statistics:

This roster of shocking statistics about wasting paper was originally part of TechSoup's GreenTech Initiative's Reduce Your Paper Use challenge.
These statistics, we hope. convey why it is so important to conserve paper in your organization's office.
Office Paper Use

•In this decade, it is projected that Americans will throw away over 4 and a half million tons of office paper and nearly 10 million tons of newspaper. Almost all of this material could be recycled. #

•In 1991, there were more than 7 million copiers in operation in the U.S. These copiers produced nearly 400 billion copies per year (almost 750,000 copies a minute). #

Paper Based Faxing

•12,500 sheets of paper can be made from 1 tree **

•210 billion sheets of paper are consumed by faxing in U.S. companies every year. **

•10,000 sheets of paper per year are used by a single U.S. office worker **

•95 percent of this paper will eventually be thrown away unrecycled. **

•4 trees per year are cut down to feed the fax requirements of an average U.S. company. **

•17 million trees per year are cut down to supply fax paper for the U.S. as a whole **

Paper Waste

•Every year enough paper is thrown away in the U.S. to make a 12 foot wall from New York to California. #

•The amount of wood and paper we throw away is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years ^^

•If every household in the U.S. reused a paper grocery bag for one shopping trip, about 60,000 trees would be saved. #


•One ton of recycled paper saves 3,700 pounds of lumber and 24,000 gallons of water. #

•One ton of recycled paper uses: 64% less energy, 50% less water, 74% less air pollution, saves 17 trees and creates 5 times more jobs than one ton of paper products from virgin wood pulp. #

•Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 trees (35 feet tall), 2 barrels of oil (enough fuel to run the average car for 1,260 miles or from Dallas to Los Angeles), 4,100 kilowatts of energy (enough power for the average home for 6 months), 3.2 cubic yards of landfill space (one family size pick-up truck) and 60 pounds of air pollution. #


•It takes one 15-year old tree to produce half a box of paper. #

•One tree can filter up to 60 pounds of pollutants from the air each year. #

•Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years. &&


•Recycling a four-foot stack of newspapers saves the equivalent of one 40-foot fir tree. #

•Everyday Americans buy 62 million newspapers and throw out 44 million. That’s the equivalent of dumping 500,000 trees into a landfill every week. #

•If everyone in the U.S. recycled just 1/10 of their newsprint, we would save the estimated equivalent of about 25 million trees a year. #

•It takes 75,000 trees to print a Sunday Edition of The New York Times. #

•If we recycled all of the newspapers for one Sunday, we would save 550,000 trees or about 26 millions trees per year. #


  1. And who is the culprit on all this sad cutting of trees? I say "us." We use paper like it was an unending stream of water. All the un-needed stuff we consume and throw-away, Yes, the corporations are guilty parties but ultimately it is us that the "blame finger" can be pointed at. In forty years will your grandchildren be thanking you for the devasted world you will have left them. -- barbara

  2. A good post, Elora. Much the same story can be told for all of our "consumables." Recycle, yes, and preferentially buy new products made from recycled feedstocks. Push for less packaging, and products that are designed to facilitate recycling after their useful lives. Educate your children, and your neighbors. The list goes on and on, but there is much we can do. "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"

  3. Hi Elora and MM:

    Interesting post. Having worked in an office setting with many people for the last 15 years I have seen alot of paper wasted. Believe it or not, many people (particularly older people) would print a document to edit it rather than edit it on the computer! I guess old habits are hard to change. Anyway, now that I don't work in an office anymore I really miss taking home all the shredded paper from the office. I used to bring home all the coffee grounds and shredded paper and add to my compost pile. It made a wonderful carbon addition and did not cost any money or effort. Thanks for the infomative post.