But new technologies mean that the ability to "go paperless" can last well beyond one day a year and can become regular practices in our daily lives. With an increasing ease in creating, sharing, and storing information electronically, we can hopefully consume less and less paper. Here are a few tech tips on how to reduce your paper consumption:
Paperless billing. Most bills and bank statements can be received and paid over the Internet. When possible, opt out of having paper mail sent to you. (This includes catalogs!)
Print to PDF. Instead of sending your documents to the printer, print them to PDF files. To do this, select Adobe PDF as your printer option. The PDF format is also recommended for scanning and storing documents. Remember: if you choose to store important documents electronically, do make sure you are diligent with your backups!
Digitize your signature. Despite the prevalence of email communications, the command to "sign this and fax it to me" still exists (and might just be the most common reason those of us that try to "go paperless" still find ourselves printing out hard-copies). You can avoid printing to paper in order to merely sign a form or contract by creating a digital version of your signature.
- To do so, simply sign your name on a piece of paper. Use white paper. And sign big. You can always shrink the size using a graphics software program.
- Scan it (Use as high a resolution as you can).
- Crop the image.
- If you use Photoshop, you can use the magic wand tool to trace around your signature and copy it to a transparent background. This way, rather than an overtly rectangular image, you'll have a version of your signature that will blend nicely with any document into which you insert it.
Digital note-taking. I'm a big fan of "jotting things down" and I used to have numerous scraps of paper and post-it notes strewn on my desk, containing my various ideas and "to do" lists. There are a variety of programs available now so that your computer and your mobile device can take and store notes for you electronically. (I'm a big fan of Evernote as it works on both my computer and my iPhone and allows the syncing of the notes I take with either device.)
Read it online. Turn to the Internet to read newspapers, magazines, and blogs (including, of course, Justmeans.com!)
Technology continues to make it easier "go green" and in particular to reduce the amount of paper we consume in our everyday lives. What steps have you taken to "go paperless" in your life?