Gone Dead Trees

How many pieces of paper does it take to deforest a nation… or planet? Long ago, my wife and I managed to get ourselves off junk, advertisement, and other mailing lists. It felt good. The only mail we received was mail we wanted (or needed) to read. We discovered it was necessary to fill out the “cease and desist” junk mail form every year, but the time was nothing compared to saving a few trees. What few bills we have are all set up for electronic billing and payments. For the most part, we were nearly 100% paperless in our house. Then January 2022 came around, and our mailbox got ugly. Of the four places where we’re employed (or were employed) all but one sent our w-2s and 1099s through the paper mail, even though we had downloaded all our tax information from our benefit portals (3-5 pages each).

A few days later we received mail from the IRS, five pages explaining an enclosed reimbursement check. That same day we received mail from the Mayo Clinic―an advertisement dolled up to look like a handwritten letter. (We didn’t fall for it.) It’s the 21st Century, and we’ve got just 41 more years before Zefram Cochrane invents Warp Drive. I would have thought we’d all be paperless by now.