The Perfectly Paperless Project

BOSTON, MASS. -- Corporate America long ago abandoned the "paperless office" dream. But I've embarked on a project to completely eliminate paper from my life. That's why I was pleasantly shocked to learn that one study says moving from paper-based billing and statements to Web transactions can save up to 24 square feet of forest per year.

Months ago, I cancelled my subscriptions to the paper New York Times and Wall Street Journal, and signed up for the Amazon Kindle versions. I avoid buying books that are not electronic, and favor those that are.

I also do a lot of public speaking, and have recently started using my Kindle for notes, instead of printed-out notes.

My wife and I have methodically moved any kind of financial or other interaction with various people who send stuff in the mail to electronic billing and statements. Most of the rest goes to Earth Class Mail, which makes it electronic for us, but still paper is produced and delivered.

I do all my "faxing" electronically.

We've recently even eliminated paper grocery bags, and instead use the canvas bags sold by the store.

Despite this effort, we've still been unable to go completely paperless. Some "service providers" simply don't do electronic. The California DMV, for example, sends all communication via envelopes full of paper. Our doctor and dentist bills and other information can't be made online yet. (My dentist doesn't even have an e-mail address!)

And then there's the bathroom...

I'd like to tell you that my well developed sense of environmental responsibility is driving this Perfectly Paperless Project. But the main driver is my desire for a fully functional nomadic lifestyle. One of the biggest advantages of electronic information over paper-based information, is that it can be delivered to or accessed from anywhere. Paper is just an anchor that keeps you chained to a specific location -- the place where the paper information is delivered.

Yes, I want to save a forest. But I want to be able to live and work in one, too, once in a while.

I'll keep you posted.

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