In 2010, on a mailed statement, there was a notice that “for every 13 people who go paperless, one tree can be saved.” Really? What does that mean?
- 13 people go paperless with this company for one month and one tree will be saved, or
- 13 people go paperless with this company for one year and one tree will be saved, or
- 13 people go paperless with this company for as long as they’re a customer and one tree will be saved, or
- 13 people go paperless with all companies for the rest of their lives and one tree will be saved…
None of these explanations makes sense. The first two would not save much paper, while the last two contain too much variability to be accurately quantified. What does make sense is going paperless when it is sensible to do so.
Going paperless and then printing out the paperless statement gains nothing, so if a hard copy is needed, don’t go paperless. However, many statements can be received electronically, stored electronically, and later on, destroyed electronically.
I enjoy receiving invoices as email attachments. I don’t like the alternative of receiving a notice that a statement is available for me to download. Although a desirable precaution for banking and investment records, it is a hassle. You need to log into a secure site, enter your login and password, navigate to the right page, and download the statement. To make matters worse, it is inadvisable to click on email links, as they can direct you to a bogus site. It is also inadvisable to use the same login and password for each site, which adds another level of complexity and confusion.
I’m all for saving trees and doing it whenever it is practical. However, when saving a tree is time-consuming and frustration-laden, I’ll pass. After all, a tree can be planted to replace the one I used, but the time lost in trying to save the tree is gone forever.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, shares his lifetime of business experience and personal insights with others through his books and blogs to encourage, inspire, and occasionally entertain.