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Thread: Will we ever stop using paper?

  1. #1
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    Will we ever stop using paper?

    At this point, paper is, by any metric, an obsolete technology, and yet, it seems that, the less we use in our daily lives, the more we use as a species. This is one of the few apocalyptic stresses we are currently placing on our planet that we could end without much hassle. So why haven't we?
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    Well, I don't think "without much hassle". We'd be disrupting several multibillion dollar industries, forcing major changes to record keeping methods and books, and severely disadvantaging anyone who can't afford or have access to electronics.

    Maybe after we find a viable substitute to use for printed materials. Some kind of pseudo-paper that holds ink but is easily recycled or biodegraded.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    At this point, paper is, by any metric, an obsolete technology, and yet, it seems that, the less we use in our daily lives, the more we use as a species.
    Could you provide some data to show what you mean? How much paper is being consumed, and how much is it decreasing in our daily lives? I personally have no clue as to how those are changing.


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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    This is one of the few apocalyptic stresses we are currently placing on our planet that we could end without much hassle.
    "Apocalyptic stresses"? It certainly doesn't make my top 10 of environmental threats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Could you provide some data to show what you mean? How much paper is being consumed, and how much is it decreasing in our daily lives? I personally have no clue as to how those are changing.
    Here's a graph. (Original context.)
    We're using less paper for printing, but more for packaging.
    The problem is, of course, that the increase in paper products for packaging has been driven by a deliberate move away from plastics, in order to fend off one of those other environmental apocalpyses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    "Apocalyptic stresses"? It certainly doesn't make my top 10 of environmental threats.
    It contributes to deforestation, which would be one of my top 3 environmental threats.
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

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    What do you propose children produce art on?
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    It contributes to deforestation, which would be one of my top 3 environmental threats.
    If I remember, most US paper (I don't know about any other production) is from farmed trees. Of course, single-species tree farms (it's not right to call them forests) have their own set of problems. There are also many alternatives to wood for paper production, including cotton, linen, kenaf, hemp, and bamboo.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    It contributes to deforestation, which would be one of my top 3 environmental threats.
    But that's not intrinsic to paper, that is just how lots of (most?) paper is currently being produced. Paper could be completely recycled and it could be produced from completely renewable sources. Even if you make it from new trees, if one used farmed trees, rather than old-growth forests, it could be produced without any additional changes in land use.

    As grant hutchison points out, lots of paper is used for packaging, instead of plastics, and I find paper waste to be a much less harmful waste product than plastics. Personally, all of my personal paper waste goes either into our compost pile (and eventually our garden) or our recycling bin.
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  10. #10
    Paper will be around for sometime to come. Even in a galaxy far far away and a long time ago there was a species that used paper to back up their documents, that is science fiction of course. Paper has a few advantages it can last a long time, you don't have to worry about not being able to read it because the reading device has changed format and it can very versatile. Yes there are drawbacks such as we need the trees to recycle the carbon dioxide and keep erosion from happening. Plus unless they find a better substance for the bathroom we are tuck with for a while.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    Paper has a few advantages it can last a long time, you don't have to worry about not being able to read it because the reading device has changed format and it can very versatile.
    It doesn't last a long time on its own, pure pulp paper is light-sensitive and delicious to silverfish. Modern white paper is coated with a variety of substances, many of which are not great for the ecosystem
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    What do you propose children produce art on?
    An Etch-A-Sketch, obvs!
    (My nephew assures me that it's not only the worst Christmas present I ever gave him, but the single worst gift he has ever received.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    An Etch-A-Sketch, obvs!
    (My nephew assures me that it's not only the worst Christmas present I ever gave him, but the single worst gift he has ever received.)
    I'm not sure my children have experienced that particular frustration. But Facebook reminded me yesterday that it was six years since Zane had painted for the first time, and I'm pretty sure I still have that painting somewhere, which you don't get with the Etch-a-Sketch.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillianren View Post
    I'm not sure my children have experienced that particular frustration. But Facebook reminded me yesterday that it was six years since Zane had painted for the first time, and I'm pretty sure I still have that painting somewhere, which you don't get with the Etch-a-Sketch.
    A lady has just became a news item in the UK, albeit the "light relief" section, for having had a copy of one of her child's paintings tattooed on her upper arm. And then, some years later, discovering that it wasn't actually her sons's work at all, but something produced by one of his playmates.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    Plus unless they find a better substance for the bathroom we are tuck with for a while.
    In some places in the world, TP has not broken big. There's bidets or istinja washing, for instance.
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    A lady has just became a news item in the UK, albeit the "light relief" section, for having had a copy of one of her child's paintings tattooed on her upper arm. And then, some years later, discovering that it wasn't actually her sons's work at all, but something produced by one of his playmates.
    Whoops. Yeah, I watched him paint this one.
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    "Now everyone was giving her that kind of look UFOlogists get when they suddenly say, 'Hey, if you shade your eyes you can see it is just a flock of geese after all.'"

    "You can't erase icing."

    "I can't believe it doesn't work! I found it on the internet, man!"

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    Without paper, there could be no faxes. Without faxes, the (USA) medical system would collapse. Paper forever!

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    Why faxes? Signatures?
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

    Stephen Colbert.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Why faxes? Signatures?
    One example would be in the hotel industry there at least used be a form called a third party authorization form that be sent via fax like if you wanted to pay for a room for some body else. Lets say you wanted to pay for a room for a son/daughter, to how they have permission for they need your signature on the form to cover everybody.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Why faxes? Signatures?
    Good question. I've never understood why medical offices insist on faxing things to each other instead of using email.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tashirosgt View Post
    Good question. I've never understood why medical offices insist on faxing things to each other instead of using email.
    Just a guess but in the US.....HIPPA?


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    Quote Originally Posted by tashirosgt View Post
    Without paper, there could be no faxes. Without faxes, the (USA) medical system would collapse. Paper forever!
    And the real estate industry. They fax everything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tashirosgt View Post
    Good question. I've never understood why medical offices insist on faxing things to each other instead of using email.
    According to this from the Stanford School of Medicine, it is because of incompatible EHR (Electronic Health Record) systems. I know all of my doctors are within the same hospital system, and so they do everything electronically.

    Larger discussion here from a website called "Physicians Practice".
    The days of the physical fax machine are numbered – and physician practices would be smart to cut those ties sooner rather than later. Digital cloud faxing combines the utility of faxing with the security protocols that HIPAA regulations and commonsense demand while presenting information in a way that physicians and staff are accustomed to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    And the real estate industry. They fax everything.
    Having worked in a Congressional office, I would add cranks. Cranks LOVE faxing their Congressman rants about how he is an evil baby-eating commie-Nazi.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Having worked in a Congressional office, I would add cranks. Cranks LOVE faxing their Congressman rants about how he is an evil baby-eating commie-Nazi.
    Having been asked by various advocacy groups over the years to participate in various campaigns to influence political decisions, I know a variety of automated and semi-automated tools have been used, that didn't involve actually writing letters and putting them in envelopes to post. Years ago faxes seemed to be popular, but my experience in recent times is these are now almost completely emails, posts to the representatives web page, or even tweets.
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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    Just a guess but in the US.....HIPPA?


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    HIPPA might be the nominal reason, but this doesn't make sense. The typical fax machine is sitting in an office where any passerby can look at the faxes - janitors, maintenance people, salemen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Having been asked by various advocacy groups over the years to participate in various campaigns to influence political decisions, I know a variety of automated and semi-automated tools have been used, that didn't involve actually writing letters and putting them in envelopes to post. Years ago faxes seemed to be popular, but my experience in recent times is these are now almost completely emails, posts to the representatives web page, or even tweets.
    Oh, I’m familiar with form e-mails and I sign about five a day. The faxes from cranks that I read in 2012 were decidedly homemade.
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  28. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Having worked in a Congressional office, I would add cranks. Cranks LOVE faxing their Congressman rants about how he is an evil baby-eating commie-Nazi.
    I am so glad I do not have a fax machine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    I am so glad I do not have a fax machine.
    I am so glad I'm not a Congressman.
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    It is hard to do Origami with fax paper, and it is very poor as toilet paper or for wrapping delicate objects. Too thin for wall paper, and quite wrong for rolling cigarettes. Not the best for any archive use, and rarely used for newsprint. Poor to recycle but quite good for faxes. Of all the papers, maybe fax paper is doomed.
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