I’ve never been an environmentalist. I mean, I believe in the biblical principal that if you’re a good steward over what you have that God will bless you with more. But I’m not the guy who’s putting every can, bottle and plastic bag in it’s proper receptacle. Yet there is one area of recycling and conservation of the Earth where the ‘save the Earth’ folks agenda lines up perfectly with mine. And that’s when it comes to the topic of paper.
When I was a kid, I had an Okidata printer when most people barely had PCs with word processors. I kicked out my share of beautifully printed, double-spaced essays and term papers. It served me well over the course of it’s life and of the four printers I’d gone through subsequently. However, that was back in 1986 when I was using QuantumLink (which would become America Online) and dying to meet someone with an actual e-mail address so that I could communicate with them. It’s 2010 now and we need to take a long, hard look at our obsession with physical paper in all forms.
So why am I making all this fuss over paper? Well, it’s because I spend to much of my time managing it. And with no real benefit. You see, I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and minor tasks for some are harder decisions for me. It’s not quite at the level of the folks on ‘Hoarders’, but at certain points of my life, I was close. Even today I keep every neighborhood collection of circulars that land on my front door and I can’t bring myself to throw them out until I’ve gone through them all. (Sometimes thumbing through the pages of stores I have no intention of visiting). For me, all of this paper gets in the way of living.
I have a friend at my job that likes to share things with me — by printing them out and putting them on my desk. It was a few months before I had to explain my situation. “I have to keep that paper and process it — that is, read it and understand it — and can’t throw it out until I’m done.” But there’s something bigger about the paper that landed on my desk than my disorder or the cost of the paper and the ink that it took to deliver it to me. My business mind sees the gross inefficiency that paper leads to.