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The Reality of Greenwashing and Going Paperless.

Greenwashing the Facts

Going paperless to save the environment, who could be against that? That is basically what major financial institutions, big box stores, power companies, Insurance companies and others claim to show how environmentally aware they are. The truth is something completely different. E-Waste is the actual outcome of going paperless. The hardware needed to bring about the switch to paperless requires constant repair or replacement, leading to an ever-growing environmental crisis. Computers, monitors, old printers, are shipped to dumping grounds in Africa or China, seeping into the groundwater, and creating a toxic soup of heavy metals and carcinogens. 

Recently, in the United States and Canada, 120 companies, have altered, or altogether removed their statements about being green and paperless. The change came about at the urging of Two Sides, a consumer advocacy group urging the continued use of paper for things like statements and bills. They pointed out that being certified green in the U.S. and Canada has to fall within the guidelines set forth by both the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, and the Competition Bureau of Canada. Both agencies require that credible and specific science-based fact to support a company's green claims. It has been found that more often than not, requirements are not being met even as companies still claim that they are paperless to benefit the environment. In fact, the claims are nothing more than a marketing ploy used as a way to manipulate and force more customers to use digital options. 

What is not understood by the companies who go paperless, or the public at large, print and paper is a far more sustainable model than paperless that takes up landfill and leaks pollutants into the environment. Trees, especially with fast-growing hybrids, are a renewable resource and paper is among the most highly recycled substances on Earth. It makes much more sense to use paper when it is actually green and is preferred by consumers.

Paperless is Not Popular

A recent study found that despite all the environmental claims companies make, and their focus on a paperless society, the average person does not want to feel they are being pushed into going paperless. The study also found that the majority of people feel that it is not only their preference to receive paper documents but also their right. They also see the word "paperless" as a ruse. Most people said that it is not truly paperless if a consumer has to print out a hard copy of their documents for things like applying for a job, or a mortgage. They also see the push for being more environmentally friendly as a convenient way to cut a popular service in order to save money.  The resistance against going paperless is so strong among consumers in the United States and Canada that a whopping 45% and 34% respectively said they would move to another provider such as a new bank or cellular provider. 

Paper is Green and Popular

The bottom line is that paper through the careful use of using trees at the right time and planting a new one to replace each that was used is a green option. It is clear from the data on the subject across the consumer spectrum; paper is more popular than paperless. It makes sense for companies who want to retain customers and truly make an impact on the environment to return to paper. Yes, some consumers prefer paperless, but they are in the minority.

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