Celebrate World Paper Free Day – Things you never knew you could do without paper

The use of paper as a means of recording information has been so ubiquitous for so long that many of us find it difficult to imagine a world without it, or even with less of it. But the fact is, we now live in a world in which that is infinitely possible, and is critical to the survival of the environment. Here are some of the ways that you can help make the change…
newspaper sitting on a laptop computer, representing the digital era to save the environment

Before we take a look at some of the many practical uses for which paper is no longer needed, let’s take a brief look at the history of paper.

Paper can be defined as “thin sheets made from fibre that has been macerated until each individual filament is a separate unit”. Though other materials, such as cotton, have been in used in the past, for centuries the dominant form of paper has been that made from wood pulp, coming from many different trees. First created in China in the 2nd century, paper use gradually spread around the world, replacing other mediums such as papyrus and vellum. With the advent of the printing press in Europe in the late-middle ages, its use exploded and has remained high ever since.

But with the digital revolution of the past few decades, the need for paper has diminished dramatically, coupled with a rising awareness of the need to conserve the environment and be more eco friendly. However despite this, paper use remains high, with an estimated 12.5 million tonnes of paper and card used in the UK alone each year.

One reason for this, may well be that people are unaware of the fact that many of the tasks that they use paper for on a daily basis can in fact be done just as well, or better, using digital PDF technology. So today we’d like to share with you some of those things which you can do with a PDF which you may not know, so that you can in turn reduce your paper consumption and our burden on the environment.

Things you never knew you could do without paper

    Sign documents – Software such as Nuance’s Power PDF can be used to electronically sign any document, and this is every bit as legally binding as using pen and paper.

    Merge PDF documents – If you want to combine two documents together, you don’t need to print them out and physically staple them together, you can simply merge them together digitally, in a fraction of the time. If you need to, you can even reorder the pages.

    Create a portfolio – Whether you’re an artist, a writer, a business person or anything else, you may well need to create a showcase of your work to show other people. In the past this meant collecting ‘clippings’ or printing out examples, but today you can create your portfolio digitally as a PDF. As well as saving paper, this also means you can send it to anyone, wherever they may be in the world, instantly (and with no printing, binding or postage charges).

    Send a fax – Having to print out something so that you can send it to someone electronically is pretty wasteful in this day and age. PDF software allows you to send a fax entirely digitally, and if you do have a hard copy of something you need to send you can scan it in easily.

    Use a ticket – Many ticket providers now give the option to have your ticket for a concert, match or other event sent to you as a PDF which you can show instead of a physical ticket via email. This not only means less paper waste, it also means you don’t have to worry about remembering to take the ticket or print it off.

    Check and save payslips – A growing number of firms and agencies are doing their bit for the environment by issuing payslips to staff as PDFs which can be easily filed and checked electronically. This can also save considerable time in your filing cabinet or drawer.

    Monitor and save bank statements – Most banks now provide the option for you to have your statements sent to you electronically rather than in the mail. This reduces paper waste, and again makes them easier to manage and store. Contact your bank to find out more.

    Read documents – Some people say that they prefer to read a printed version of a document, but one major benefit of reading a PDF over a hard copy is that you can use the ‘search’ function to instantly find information or a specific paragraph that you’re looking for. You can also create bookmarks so you can easily pick up where you left off.

    With World Paper Free Day fast approaching on 9th November, now is the perfect time for us all to do our bit to help safeguard the future of our planet.

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