Tuesday, July 9, 2013

7 reasons we need paper more than ever

This is a guest post written by Fritha Strickland, Head of Blogs at Eco Market
Spiral Recycled Note Pad
Every week of every month for the last decade, writers in publications scattered all over the world have confidently announced the death of paper. Amazon's Kindle is released - and books are labelled defunct. Mobile phone notetaking apps are killing moleskines. After 79 years in print, Newsweekmagazine goes digital-only, so it's only a matter of time before everything else does. What's wrong with this doom & gloom argument? Simple - paper is still everywhere. For example, despite Kindle's sky-rocketing popularity, Amazon is expanding its print publishing empire - and Moleskine just went IPO.

Paper is not dead - it's thriving. Here's why:
"Paper has turned out to be tenacious. This is because paper is awesome."
- Tim Maly, Wired.

Here are 7 reasons why we still need this awesome piece of technology in our lives.
1. We Remember Things Better
Ever put pen to paper and felt like you were capturing your thoughts a little differently? It may all be in your head, but it’s not just your imagination. Studies suggest that the physical act of writing by hand gives us a greater focus on the meaning behind our words, making handwriting a more effective tool for learning than typing. Remember the age-old school punishment of ‘writing lines’? If you want something etched deep into your memory…grab a sheet of paper and punish yourself.
2. We're Less Hasty
How often in modern life are we told to slow down while we’re working? Productivity is all about speed - and with speed comes carelessness, typos, glaring holes in our arguments and laugh-out-loud clunkers. All very well when you’re writing for yourself or friends, but at work (or study) that can be a professional disaster. Enter your own personal editor: paper. The act of first-drafting by hand is usually enough to iron out the most stubborn typos, partly because your subconscious has a better vocabulary than you do. (Test this out next time you don’t know how to spell a word: write as many variations as you can, and hunt for the one that “looks right.”) Handwritten first drafts also force us to immerse ourselves in what we’re writing about, for the reasons outlined in (1). It’ll take longer, but using paper will make your words (and the thinking behind them) much stronger.
3. We Feel It Differently
Ever smelled an old book? That cocktail of musty paper, the air of countless page-turnings, and the deep, rich tang of time itself? Ever seen people in the British Library lusting over old books? Ever pined for a really nice fountain pen? Ever wondered where all that emotion has gone in the age of the digital book? It' possible that with the advent of e-paper and touchscreens we’ve lost a little of our passion and reverence for the physical act of reading and write. Paper isn’t just a completely blank canvas - it’s a personal statement. Pull out some hemp stationery and you’re saying “I care about where this stuff comes from - also, feel that texture, it’s amaaaaazing.”
4. We're Quicker On The Draw
If you’re one of the super-fast-fingered iPhone elite, this may not apply to you…but for the rest of us, gadgets take time. They need waking up or turning on, they need a few second for their apps to load, and they need to wait while we stab ineffectually at the screen in some mistake-riddled parody of typing. Whatever the combination of delays, they are slower than using a pen and a piece of paper - and even today, there’s little quicker than speedwriting.

Power socket
5. We Never Have To Stop
Your best thoughts run on a 24-hour schedule, but battery power is finite. If you forget to charge up, you could be left without the tools to jot down ideas, make notes, and the million other ways we use technology to jog our memories. Worse, our peace of mind is disrupted by our remaining battery power. Less than 50%? Nervously chew lip. Less than 20%? Dim the screen, shut down unnecessary apps, start panicking. Electrical devices enslave our mood in subtle ways - but paper? Paper is always ready for business. The only power source it needs is a human brain.
6. We Tidy Up The Planet
It’s nice to think of a world where we don’t need to keep churning out new paper - and in a way, we’re living in that world right now. Putting aside the future for a minute - the modern world is full of waste paper, and the more that can be used of it, the fewer trees will need to be cut down. It’s been estimated that half the world’s paper being recycled would produce the same amount of paper as 20 million acres of forestland. Leading recycling firms like The Green Stationery Company (creators of the Evolution recycled paper line) believe that recycled fibre should be the priority for any paper-consuming company wanting to help the environment. If more waste paper can be put back into production, it encourages investment in recycling technologies that will continually strive to close the sustainability loop.
Planted sapling
7. We're Futureproofing Sustainable Industries
 There’s the other side to the recycling argument, and it’s all about the future. Done right, paper is a renewable resource, and that presents green entrepreneurs with an opportunity to make customers care about a mass-produced product that’s not hollowing out the environment. Virgin papermaking uses a lot of resources (water, energy, bleacing agents etc.) so the way we make paper should constantly be evolving. Right now hemp is a very attractive alternative to wood pulp (and here's why). The smarter we are at making paper, the better it's going to be for our environment - and the best time to start refining that process is now.

Images:  a.driantheilrjnyemb and USFS Region 5.