The Economist wonders whatever happened to the “paperless office”? Thirty years ago the rise of computers was hailed as the beginning of the paperless-office era. In a 1980 briefing in The Economist, “Towards the paperless office”, they recommended that businesses trying to improve productivity should “reduce the flow of paper, ultimately aiming to abolish it”.
Unfortunately not many people listened to The Economist. Since they extolled the virtue of a paperless society, global paper consumption has increased by half.
The average American uses the paper equivalent of almost six 40-foot trees a year. Gizmodo says don’t feel too bad, the EU bureaucracy in Brussels pushed the Belgian paper consumption to a whopping 8.5 trees per person, which is like taking four Rockefeller Center Christmas trees and setting them on fire.
The trend is unlikely to change if a report from ITnewsLink is to be believed. More than half of Americans think the U.S. will never go paperless. Pollster Poll Position conducted a national scientific telephone survey to see if Americans think the U.S. could ever be a paperless society.
Poll Position’s research (PDF) found that 56% of Americans said they don’t think the U.S. would ever be a paperless society, while 20% said yes, one day we’ll all go paperless. Twenty-four percent of Americans were undecided or had no opinion on the question.
Other Poll Position finding
- 63% of the 18-29 age group said the U.S. would never be a paperless society and 23% said we could be a paperless society.
- 56% of men and women said we could never be a paperless society.
You can still vote in their online companion poll.
I would think that in an era of computers, Amazon (AMZN) Kindle Fire and Apple (AAPL) iPad tablet computers, iPhones and Google (GOOG) Android smartphones that paper consumption would decrease. apparently it takes more than buzzwords like “paperless” and “green” to make a difference.
- Tips for Making Your Online Business Completely Paperless (wepay.com)
- The Paperless Office? (Going Green) (whattheythink.com)