Ditching paper-heavy workflows and processes could not only save your organization time and money, it could also help improve your environmental footprint. As we outline below, reducing paper usage can help you go green. Reducing pollution and slowing global warming are increasingly important endeavors for organizations big and small. You can do your part by reducing waste and consuming less.
There are, however, some important caveats and it’s worth noting that sustainably harvested paper is among the greener material options available. Sustainably-sourced paper cups, for example, can be a green alternative to disposable plastic cups.
Regardless, eliminating or reducing paper consumption can improve a company’s environmental footprint. No cup at all is better for the environment. Of course, you can’t go cupless with soda, but you can go paperless with many business processes.
So let’s take a look at how going digital can help you go green.
- Are Digital Ecosystems Inherently Better for the Environment?
On the whole, reducing paper consumption will benefit the environment. That said, some have argued that paper is actually more environmentally friendly than digital devices. There are some valid concerns, but as we’ll see, switching to a digital system is typically an important step in the right direction.
All things considered, producing electronics, including computers and smartphones, does have a detrimental impact on the environment. Metals must be mined, and doing so often hurts the environment. Manufacturing consumes energy and also produces waste and pollutants. Running servers too consumes electricity. Still, all of the servers in the United States combined account for just 2 percent of energy consumption.
So are paper systems perhaps more environmentally friendly than digital systems? In most cases, probably not.
First, paper is often used as a redundancy or is tacked on additionally to the use of digital systems. You might log onto your computer, put together an invoice, then print it and mail it to your client. You still need your computer to both write and store the invoice. In this case, using paper doesn’t reduce your reliance on electronic devices, the paper is simply additional waste.
When switching to digital systems, you often don’t need to buy additional hardware. Your current laptops and smartphones will work with many SaaS platforms. You need your computer either way, so using paper doesn’t prevent the environmental costs of manufacturing and using a computer (or smartphone).
Further, paper-based systems may actually require more electronics, thus generating waste. If you’re printing up a lot of materials, not only do you need paper and ink, but you also need printers, and potentially, lots of them.
You may also have to mail the invoice, using more paper for envelopes and fuel used to deliver the letter. Rather than wasting paper and fuel, you could simply send the invoice (or contract, sign-off form, etc.) digitally. This will take a tiny amount of energy, but compared to physical mail, you’re likely consuming a lot less emailing the paperwork.
And while any digital system may improve your environmental footprint, Software-as-a-Service systems offer some additional benefits. Let’s take a look.
- Software-as-a-Service Can Extend Electronic Equipment’s Lifespan
Cloud-based services can help you extend the lifespan of your electronics. In the past, computers needed to run robust software programs locally, which requires powerful processors, lots of RAM, and everything else. Now, cloud-based servers can do the heavy lifting, running software and storing large chunks of data on servers while delivering it locally to devices.
As a result, you don’t need to buy a new computer every year or every other year to run the latest and greatest software. With Software-as-a-Service delivered through the cloud, you may be able to use the same laptop for five or more years while still using powerful software solutions, thus saving all the energy and materials that go into making new computers. The same is true for smartphones and other devices.
- Improve Your Environmental Footprint While Saving Money
Ultimately, paperless systems typically improve your impact on the environment. Paper also costs money and while using a few sheets here and there won’t set you back much, printing up thousands of sheets adds up quickly. You also have to pay for ink, envelopes, stamps, printers, and all the rest.
Paper-based systems are difficult to organize and maintain as well. If you’ve got thousands of signed forms, printed invoices, and whatever else, you need to store them somewhere and you also need to set up an organizational system to make sense of all the paperwork.
By going digital, you can improve your environmental footprint, save costs, and also streamline workflows and operations, potentially boosting productivity. At the end of the day, digital systems are wins all around and PERFEQTA can help.