What is earth day
Started in 1970, Earth Day is an annual event held worldwide on April 22 to demonstrate support and raise awareness about environmental protection. Earth Day began as a response after an oil spill took place in Santa Barbara in 1969 to educate people about the environment. This brought together many people across the U.S who shared the same values of protecting the environment causing peaceful protests pushing for environmental reform.
Since then many more groups and initiatives have been put into place to help reduce pollution and to help protect the environment. Typically on Earth day many events are help throughout communities that focus on helping the environment whether it is done through direct actions such as planting trees or cleaning up parks, or whether it is done through the push for policies to be changed. A very significant change was implemented on April 22, 2016 when the Paris Agreement was signed by over 120 countries to focus on reducing greenhouse gasses.
Environmental impact of paper
One major form of waste that is not good for the environment is paper. It is estimated that in North America, about 40% of waste is paper. This is a significant figure, because although it is a useful product, it is harmful for the air, land and water. Over 30 million acres of forest are destroyed annually to harvest wood that is used to produce paper. This is JUST to make paper, nothing else. Taking away all these trees not only reduces the quality of the air but also takes away the habitat of all the species that live in those forests. Taking away those forests means ruining entire ecosystems.
On top of cutting down all those trees, for a single A4 sheet of paper to be produced, it takes about 10 litres of water. The whole production process of paper takes up huge amounts of water. And if the production process isn’t damaging enough to the environment, when paper isn’t recycled it ends up being burned, a process that emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere adding to the air pollution. As a whole, the paper industry is the 5th largest consumer of energy in the world. Focusing on cutting down on the use of paper would have a significant impact on the environment and on the air that we breath.
How digitization helps you have a positive environmental impact
Businesses tend to use up a lot of paper and office settings can waste a lot of it. Trying to make your office paperless will make a big difference. By converting your current documents to digital files you can recycle the current paper so it can be reused which will help save trees from being cut and more paper from being produced. When paper documents are lost, another copy is printed which results in more paper used. When multiple people need a copy of a document, multiple copies are printed out. All of these wastes of paper can be taken care of by digitizing documents and by aiming to create a paperless office.
A good tool to help eliminate paper is an electronic document management system. Once you digitize your documents, you need a good way to manage it all to make sure you get the most use out of the digital files. Most companies and organizations continue to print files because they do not have systems in place to properly manage electronic information. Technology can have a positive environmental impact if leveraged properly. Using electronic document management technology eliminates the need to manage or produce paper.
Let’s look at an AP department for example. Instead of processing invoices manually and by hand, everything is done automatically in a digital format. Receiving electronic invoices is the first piece of the puzzle, but processing them digitally is the second. Not only are physical copies no longer needed to be signed and approved, the risk of printing losing an invoice and having to reprint it is also eliminated.
By switching to electronic files, not only are you helping make a difference for the environment, you are also making your office a lot more efficient. Eventually it ends up saving you money as well so it’s a win-win for everyone!
If you’re interested on how you can start the initiative to make your office paperless, contact us and we will be more than happy to point you in the right direction!