When you sit down and think about it, we use a lot of paper in our daily lives. We are handed paper shopping bags and paper receipts, receive countless paper ads and pieces of junk that we will never read in our mailboxes every day. The rampant consumption of paper around the world has led to crisis levels of deforestation in some of the most beautiful, primal areas of the globe, destroying wildlife and ecosystems, the consequences of which may be far more dire than we will even see in our lifetimes.
To some degree, I think most Americans are hands-off activists. That is to say, they would like to see change affected, they may choose to recycle, but they don't actively seek out other ways to live a green and ecologically friendly lifestyle because the problem is so massive that it seems insurmountable, and frankly, unrealistic that the actions of only one person could change anything at all. While it is true that one person making changes is only a drop of water in a bucket, many people making changes can have a much greater impact. There are several ways in which I use the internet to make my life more ecologically friendly, mainly revolving around stopping the needless consumption of paper.
I pay all of my bills online. Every last one. No longer do I receive paper copies which wind up with the envelope the bill came in and most of the paper winding up in the shredder, shortly followed thereafter by the garbage can. If I want to access my payment history, I get onto the internet, it is only a click away. If I absolutely need to print something, I can, but I have not yet found it necessary. I also do all my banking, including direct deposit, checking to savings transfers and statements online. I find paperless banking to not only be green, but convenient, as it is immediately available and far more up to the minute than waiting til the end of the month for a bank statement to arrive that does not even reflect my most recent activity. Going paperless has become increasingly popular, to the point that most companies immediately offer it as an option.
There is another way that I conserve paper in my daily life. I will admit, I am a coupon user. I love a good deal, and my store bonus cards are stored like treasures. What many people don't know is that some stores allow you to digitally load coupons onto your bonus card so that when you scan it, all the discounts come off at the register. No more paper waste from all the coupons you won't end up using, and no more time wasted cutting coupons. Simply note your discounts on your digital grocery list (I use the notepad feature on my mobile phone to track my list) and you are good to go.
Written by Frank Conley, an advocate for satellite internet and eco friendly business decisions.