The trouble with paper…

It’s not just the paper.

It’s the precarious piles of printouts that no one knows what to do with.

“What is it? Who printed it? Do we need to keep it?”

“Is it confidential? Does it comply with our GDPR data policy?”

“Does it need to be shredded? Or cross-shredded?”

“Does it have staples in it? Can it be recycled if it has staples in it?”

It’s the in-trays, out-trays, folders, box files, shelving and filing cabinets. 

It’s the overwhelming clutter and the endless sorting and filing.

The trouble with printers…

How many times have you seen one of these messages on your computer screen?

Printer not found.

Printer is offline.

Printer is not responding.

Paper jam!

Ink cartridge(s) expired. 

I can’t tell you the hours, paper and ink I have wasted trying to resolve problems like this.

All the installs, updates, shut downs and restarts. Reading troubleshooting guides and posting on support forums.

All the times I’ve opened the back of the printer and tried to tease out a crumpled piece of paper. Then ripped it leaving half still stuck inside.

All the paper the printer wastes when it finally reconnects and decides to spew out a heap of blank and half printed pages while you desperately try to stop it.

All the half-full cartridges I’ve struggled to use because the greedy manufacturer decided its cartridges should expire before they run out.

And all those despairing moments, when I just wanted to rip its wires out and throw it out of the nearest window.

Do we really need so much paper?

When was the last time you cleared out your filing cabinet?

Do you even know what’s in there?

I once worked in an office where my superior insisted on printing out all the information and meticulously filing it away. By the time we needed to use it again it was out of date.

We had six huge filing cabinets, filled with goodness-knows-what. And we’d never use it again — because it was quicker to find the information on Google than it was to rummage through the drawers. Such is the power of the Internet.

There was also an area of the office that was stacked with printers. They weren’t expired or defective. My boss had simply found it more economical to buy a new printer, with inks supplied, than to pay the extortionate price for replacement cartridges. I remember thinking what a ridiculous waste that seemed.

There is nothing you can put on a piece of paper that you can’t read on a computer screen. Or bookmark in your browser if you need to return to it.

I decided to make a change

When I started freelancing full time in August 2017, I decided enough was enough. I wouldn’t waste any more paper and I wouldn’t print anything out unless it was absolutely necessary.

In the second part of this blog trilogy, I reveal the 20 steps I took to establish my paperless office.

About the author

I’m Jenny Lucas, a UK copywriter, based in Leicester.

I became a copywriter in 2005 after six years working in design and marketing.

I started my freelance copywriting business alongside my full time job in 2011 and, in 2017, I decided to give up having a day job and freelance full time.

Today I’m a generalist copywriter who specialises in conceptual copywriting and SEO copy for the web.

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay