Paper : In A Digital Age, Why Are We Printing More?


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We live in a digital age; information exists virtually and is stored deep within hard drives. It need never come out of the computer if it wasn’t for our love of printing. Why can’t we save paper.

Despite promises of paperless offices, we still seem to be addicted to printing. Recent studies have shown that the average office worker prints 10,000 sheets of paper every year. This is a startlingly high figure and is equivalent to each person writing several novels every year! But when you think about it, it’s not hard to see how it all adds up. With things like Apple’s Cloud, Dropbox and smartphones getting smarter, why are we printing reams more than we ever have done before? Read on to find out as here are some of the reasons why we love to print:

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A physical sheet of paper vs. a virtual word document

You can’t beat having something real. Virtual word documents are useful and to be honest, I can’t imagine a world without spell check, the ‘undo’ button, ‘copy and paste’ and of course ‘delete’. But when it comes to really looking at something or discussing it with someone else, you want it in paper.

Paper can be shared

It is easier to discuss something, which you can physically hold, point at and pass to the other person in real time. While you can easily share documents online, it takes away communication about areas that could directly relate to a piece of work that needs to be discussed.  

Paper is good for thinking

If you want to think about or review something, it is nice to be able to open an actual folder as opposed to a virtual folder. This is something that you can keep rather than something that can’t be dragged into oblivion with the click of a mouse.  

Printed means finished

Paper is also good as a physical outcome to endless tapping away at keyboards. A printed piece of paper comes with a sense of achievement – it feels more complete this way.

Paper is good for the eyes

Printing gives the eyes a break from the screen and in that sense it’s good for proofreading. It’s not healthy to look at glowing screens all day and studies show that your eyes deteriorate over time with prolonged exposure to computer screens. So, avoid printing as much as possible. 

Paper crumple

Paper is associated with learning and working, but what is so satisfying is that if all goes wrong, it can be crumpled up and thrown dramatically into the bin. Clicking a mouse really isn’t the same.

An electronic world

Similar to the rise of ebooks, which seems to have subsequently brought the demise of bookshops, digital living threatens the use of paper. It is universally accepted that bookshops are wonderful places and a good, solid book is unbeatable and yet we still dabble with electronic reading. Even fans of electronic reading will admit that they would be sorry to see the day when bookshops are no more.

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A virtual future is promised, but can you imagine an office without paper and without need for a cartridge shop? It would be very tidy, like a minimalist Ikea catalogue but it would be soulless and without any evidence that human beings worked there.

Closing notes: Printing

There is no need in this day and age to keep each piece of paper you ever printed and work between mountains of paper. Computers can store information but paper is essential to discussing, sharing and reflecting on ideas. Printing paper is no longer a necessity and yet we still prefer it. We should avoid printing to save paper.

Would you want to live your life entirely through screens and electricity? Can you imagine a world without newspapers, leaflets, books, handouts and letters?

Raushan Kumar
A Cook, Software analyst & Blogger.


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