Friday, 17 July 2009

Facebook or Post-It?

Sometime ago US company International Paper published a brochure in its Down to Earth series which posed the question "Are electronic devices the most effective environmental choice for getting information?". The graphic below is taken from the brochure.

The press release that came with it highlighted some of the main points, which were:

o Paper comes from a renewable resource – Trees.

- Every day the paper and forest products industry plants more than three times the number of trees than are harvested - paper is truly renewable and sustainable.
- Electronic devices are typically made of plastics and other non-renewable resources and often contain chemicals and metals.

o Paper vs. Computers – Compare energy consumption.

- The amount of electricity to run a computer for only five months could produce enough paper for the average person to use for an entire year.

o Paper is biodegradable and recyclable. Are computers?

- Paper is biodegradable and nearly 60% of all paper in the U.S. is recycled.
- Only 18% of all electronic devices are currently recycled and e-waste constitutes the single largest waste export in the U.S.

It's pretty selective information and doesn't bear taking to its logical conclusion. For example, suppose you didn't have that PC/laptop and had to store all those files in paper format ... And what about the energy used in getting the print on to the paper in the first place? It's the sheer volume of information that computers hold and IT is getting greener all the time.

But I was reminded of the comments by an item in thelondonnews (one of London's free papers) yesterday. It seems that a brainstorming session using Post-It notes in a glass-walled office lead to an outbreak of communications between adjacent offices and buildings using the yellow stickies.

Social networking, but not as we know it.

© The Green IT Review

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