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Read electronically and avoid printing

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Reading electronically, whether it's on your mobile device or computer screen, cuts down on the amount of paper waste in your daily life, saving trees, and easing pressure on overflowing landfills.

How to read electronically to go paperless

Paperless habits

There are lots of ways to reduce the paper waste associated with your reading habits. Here are just a few ways to begin your paperless life:

  • Review draft documents, memos, and emails on-screen. Rather than printing out letters, emails, and documents to review on paper, just review them on-screen. If you have to make editorial comments as you go, use your software's built-in editing tools.
  • Send emails rather than paper memos. When you need to communicate with friends, family, or co-workers, consider sending your message electronically through email or via an online messaging system.
  • Save files electronically. Instead of printing files for storage, save all of your documents electronically. You'll not only save on printing paper, but also paper used to make folders.
  • Receive regular bills online. Rather than getting a paper copy of bills and invoices, ask your service providers to send electronic copies instead, then save those electronically.
  • Bank electronically. Whenever possible, do your banking online rather than using ATM machines or visiting a teller.

Tools for paperless reading

Better than simply purchasing eco-friendly paper, reading electronically helps you reduce your overall consumption of paper products. But you’ll likely need certain hardware to make the switch to paperless reading:

  • Computer. Whether you’re working from home or are on the road, you can read your favorite publications, emails, and other documents electronically by using your computer or laptop.
  • PDA. Small, portable digital devices can make it easier for you to review documents, publications, and emails at home on the couch, on the commute (preferably not while driving, of course), or in between meetings.
  • Scanner. For those times when you want to exchange ideas about something in print, scanners come in super handy. Use them to scan printed publications, photos, and historical documents that can then be passed around via email.
  • Digital camera. When a scanner won’t do the trick, rely on a digital camera to capture images of important items or events.

Subscribe digitally

Go paperless by letting various publishers know that you want to receive publications via email rather than in print. From manufacturing the ink to delivery to disposal, printing just one newspaper can have a significant environmental impact. Electronic reading is one of the easiest ways to save trees, ink, and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions every day. So, ask your preferred newspaper, charity, catalog service, or magazine publisher to send you e-versions rather than print copies. Check out these publications that offer content electronically:

Find it! Portable reading devices

Some devices are made specifically (and only) for reading documents and e-books, but others, like PDAs and smartphones, are mult-taskers, allowing you to organize, communicate, and process documents all on the same wireless unit.

Reading electronically to go paperless helps you go green because ...

  • The average office worker uses 1.5 pounds of paper every day. Choosing electronic options over paper options can significantly reduce paper waste.
  • Avoiding paper also reduces the energy use and greenhouse gas emissions that result from paper production.

In the United States alone, paper is used to publish more than 2 billion books, 350 million magazines, and 24 billion newspapers annually.[1] Unfortunately, only about 32 percent of the 9.2 million tons of newsprint used annually is made from recycled paper, meaning 6 million tons of it comes from virgin forest.[2] The book, magazine, and catalog industries use more recycled fibers, but their share of virgin paper is still high.

Receiving your news, emails, and reviewing documents wirelessly on a PDA or a computer instead of traditional delivery results in 140 times fewer carbon dioxide emissions and consumes 26 to 67 times less water. Indeed, if a quarter of the newspaper readers in the US started reading the news on their PDA, they would generate just 2 to 3 percent of the carbon dioxide that would have resulted from the production of 14 million print newspapers they no longer need.[3]


While the Internet allows you to read sans paper waste, it isn't devoid of negative environmental impact. In 2006, the five leading search engines consumed five gigawatts of energy; that's enough to power the Las Vegas metro area on the hottest day of the year.[4]

Reading documents and news articles electronically isn't always ideal either; the batteries on your PDA or laptop often run out, requiring energy to recharge them.

External links



It is not necessary to "bank electronically" to be green...Just push "No" when asked if you desire a receipt from the ATM or the teller. Bank-tellers like having a job...there is no need to discourage people from going to the bank. Not that bank-tellers would disappear...but still.

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