The Paperless Universe Progress Report

a long receiptThis is a guest post by my brother Bill.

In the early ‘90s, I worked with a guy who predicted we would be working in “The Paperless Office” within a couple of decades. (My colleague was also a Mac advocate, if that tells you anything.) Applying his prediction more widely to American society in general, the paperless revolution is well underway in some areas — online banking replacing paper statements, direct deposit replacing paper paychecks, etc.

However, in other areas we have achieved mixed results at best, or we are even losing ground. Some merchants will now email your receipts to you (Office Max, for example), but they often still print the paper receipt too! If you tell them you don’t need a receipt, they wad it up and throw it away. Paper still wasted. Then there are the “toilet paper roll” receipts from places such as Best Buy and CVS, long scrolls which come with surveys and/or coupons along with the receipt. How much of that paper goes straight into the recycling?

Among the worst offenders I’ve encountered, though, has been my car dealership. This morning I took my vehicle in for MINOR service. When I was finished paying, I walked out with a six-page stapled document that included a wheel alignment sheet (showing my wheels are properly aligned), a checklist showing all the systems they had checked, and my credit card receipt on a full 8.5x11 sheet from their printer. I could see a number of areas where they could save paper. Perhaps I will give them feedback. What has your experience been with our transition to being Paperless People?

(This receipt was Paul’s — for just three items.)

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3 Replies to “The Paperless Universe Progress Report”

  1. If stores like Home Depot would just take the stupid survey info off the receipts, that would reduce paper usage by tons every year.

    Seems like product information for computers and electronic devices has actually gotten more compact with the years.

  2. Bill,

    I have had an incredible amount of paperwork this year due to a variety of life happenstances which … require a lot of paperwork. Anyway, my biggest frustration is the mix of paperless and paper. I am using pens, paper, printer, scanner, smartphone, computer, email … like just about every tool to complete one batch of paperwork from one company. 

    The absolute worst to me, though, is getting a Word document that supposedly you can fill out electronically … only to discover that the underlines “move” when you go to type in the spaces. When will that ever go away??

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