That old paper mountain just gets bigger

  TOPCAT® 17:50 21 Apr 2005

A long time ago I seem to remember someone said the rise in sales and users of computers would see a great decline in the amount of consumables used in offices of every description. It also heralded the dawn of the truly paperless office.

Computers were supposed to substantially eliminate the need for paper, more especially when the Internet opened up to all and sundry. Later, electronic ebilling paved the way for every business to further reduce their costs to consumers choosing that option. Which supposedly removed the necessity to send out hard copy to those customers, yet most I deal with continue to do so.

I've just completed the annual clear-out of our documents folder, prior to shredding the unnecessary contents. I was very surprised at the high accumulation of papers in just one year from these various companies, bank and utilities etc. of whom I had requested just ebilling notification.

Why these establishments continue to provide hard copy is, in my humble opinion, rather wasteful of time and resources. Doing so must increase their overall running costs at the end of the day and is bound to be reflected in their charges. Substantial savings can be made by corporates adopting ebilling and I'm surprised many are not gearing up to provide it.

It goes without saying that many people are just not into, or inclined towards, computing and ebilling maybe an unknown quantity to them. The elderly are a case in point, but not surprisingly many of them do take it up in later life and do remarkably well. For the remainder, the actual transaction documents by 'snail mail' has to be the norm and I'm sure you will hear no complaint about that from the postal services.

Not a rant or moan - just a general observation is all. TC.

  Pooke100 18:09 21 Apr 2005

People like their mail, I have seen plenty of people waiting at their windows watching out for it coming.

There is a "sense of feeling" (for want of a better phrase) to come from a letter in the post sent by "your" electric, phone or gas company. This is also true of personal letters.

I recently watched a program where thoughts that the moves in IT would provide a paperless world have gone the other way. We are in fact using more paper with all the developments in printing and copying and so on. The program was on Discovery, can't remember it's title. Interesting it was too.......

  Forum Editor 18:18 21 Apr 2005

I do all my banking suits me to do it that way - I can get access to my account details wherever I happen to be at whatever time I like, even across time zones.

So far, so good - no need for statements, I can print my own. That's not enough for my bank however, they write to me at least once a fortnight with offers of loans, car and house insurances, different accounts, mortgages, and pretty well anything else they can think of. The pretty coloured leaflets tumble from the envelope straight into my bin, it's all a terrible waste of money and resources.

My credit card providers are not quite so bad, but they still manage to add a fair bit to my rubbish collection.

Then there's all the stuff that comes from computer hardware and software suppliers, Medical insurers, pension providers, car companies offering me new vehicles, hotel chains asking me to stay with them when I'm next in America/India/Indonesia/Thailand/Hong Kong etc., etc., and various trade magazines offering me trial subscriptions. It's the printed equivalent of spam, only it's far more harmful in terms of the resources consumed in its production. Every year tens of thousands of tons of it must go almost directly from the printer to the waste disposal plant.

  wiz-king 19:46 21 Apr 2005

The credit card companies are moaning about people taking advantage of their 'free' transfers and no intrest on balance tranfers deals yet they still keep sending me offers and envelopes. At least I can use the envelopes which I can fill with recycling and send back. Even with this use of free envelopes I still get a bin full of rubbish every month.

  Ancient Learner 20:09 21 Apr 2005

I fill two plastic supermarket shopping bags each month with this rubbish. One bag filled with stuff, such as window type envelopes that the L.A. won't have in its recycling bin and the other with recyclable stuff.

It's sort of good to hear that others suffer the same way.

  Buchan 35 22:37 21 Apr 2005

Sorry for the abbreviated name. My feeling is that when the original statement was made about reducing paperwork a little shortsightedness was in evidence. I think they(should be in capitals) meant that the producers of the masses of paperwork were to be reduced, but even that failed with more and more executives and secretaries protecting their own 6 o/clocks and building little empires with, would you believe, unassailable firewalls. I`ll be starting my paper cull on Monday when the `Bossess` goes swimming.

  BIG Ben strikes 10 again! 08:49 23 Apr 2005

I like the PCA mag, and the reviews in it.

I like the consumer watch bit.

But the adds, the mag is absoloutely flooded with them, I never read the leaflets, so they are a waste of time and material.

And they sometimes are closed into the centre of the mag, which makes it impossible to rip out, and enjoy the mag.

I don't mind the leaflets that fall out because i shove 'em into the recycling before reading the mag.

  russmini 11:00 23 Apr 2005

I recently took a slightly different approach to this little problem.

Having thought about personel info getting into the wrong hands i went and picked up a nice little bargain, a cross cut shredder !

After using it to shred personal info, suddenly thought why not just shred anything that is made of paper, so i did and what a wierd kind of gratification it gives you as you destroy all the useless cr** that you recieve through the post. But then next Light bulb idea, just take it all into work after and use it as packing for items bieng posted / carrier'd out.

Job done, no more useless cr** cluters my home and work gains, but i do feel sorry sometimes for the people at the other end when they open a parcel and all that shredded paper comes flying out !
Ha ha ha

And in another way i am actually recycling it, so i am green !

  Bandy 12:13 23 Apr 2005


As a follow on to your shredding I find that the resulting paper works quite well in the compost bin.

Some coated papers can prove difficult but I've found that a little accelerant from the cess pit helps.

  pj123 12:41 23 Apr 2005

Junk mail, if it comes with a franked reply envelope I usually take anything with my name/details on it out. Then put the rest back in the envelope and send it back. That means they are paying the postage to me and back again.

Perhaps if we all did the same they may think again.

We are fortunate where I live that we have a fortnightly paper collection for recycling. Unfortunately, I must say that my contribution is usually about 2 large dustbin bags full. (not all of my making I might add).

  TOPCAT® 15:09 23 Apr 2005

this so called junk mail, magazine inserts etc. etc., keep an awful lot of people in employment, especially in the design and printing industry. And it helps boost mailing services earnings on items sent through the post. There's just such an enormous amount of it dropping on the mat these days, even though I've long ago signed up to have it stopped! I reckon I need to re-register my options again.

I believe the creators of this 'deluge' believe it is still cost-effective, even if only a few out of thousands mailed take up the service offered to them. Competing for business this way will continue to increase, I think, thus adding further to the 'paper mountain.' It's the modern way of doing things I suppose.

Which brings me back to the question of ebilling. This electronic accounting method could and should have started a reduction in paper through the post, but currently only a few companies do this. Maybe one day they'll rethink their strategy and undoubtably save unnecessary expenditure in the process. Customers requiring hard copies of transactions would receive them in the normal way of course.

It would be interesting to see just how many members do online accounting and note their opinions of the service. TC.

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