Paper and Technology and Environment, Oh My!

Seattle Earth Day Events

Seattle Earth Day Events

Original Post:  21 April 2008
In many places in our modern society, we are actively looking to reduce paper use, water use and electricity use in the name of “saving the environment”.   And, when you look at it on the surface, creating and using paper is bad for the environment.   We cut trees, we use a lot of water and energy to create paper, and, if not recycled, it fills dumps or pollutes the air when we burn it.   So, should we use a lot more computers and hard drives and CD’s/DVD’s to create and store documents, plans, spreadsheets and the other “artifacts” which move our society forward?   Well, think about it for a moment – first, the total fossil fuels used to make one desktop computer weigh over 240 kilograms, some 10 times the weight of the computer itself (http://www.it-environment.org/compenv.html) There are 500 million obsolete computers in the United States alone and only 10% are recycled.   (http://svtc.etoxics.org/site/PageServer?pagename=svtc_global_ewaste_crisis )
So, is information technology “greener” than using paper and cutting trees?   Well, gee, even though I’m an unabashed “chief geek”, I’m not so sure …
Happy Earth Day 2008.
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