There seems to be a prevailing thought that post = bad environmental practice while online = saving trees. And that’s just too bald a statement to put out there without any facts – as our supporter Two Sides, which represents the graphic communications industries, knows only too well.
They’ve had an issue this week with a claim that 1,600 trees across the UK would be saved by people having their TV licence online, rather than being sent a paper copy. I’m not completely au fait with the science of how you calculate such a thing, suffice to say that the figure was arrived at using a generic “life-cycle assessment” calculator, which Two Sides argues is too broad brush. Further Martyn Eustace, Two Sides director, says strict marketing guidelines should be followed before such claims are made, and adds that the figure doesn’t take into account the number of people who will print off their TV licence at home – and at their own expense.
At Keep Me Posted we are not against choice – obviously if getting a TV licence online suits you, then fine. But there are so many people who can’t get online and prefer paper who are being made to feel guilty because they are not hooked up to the internet, as if they might as well be strutting through the forest with an axe!
Paper is one of the few truly renewable and recyclable raw materials we have. Most big firms use sustainable sources for their paper - something that cannot be said for everyone printing off financial information at home.
Martyn also argues that the energy requirements of the increasing worldwide network of servers which are necessary to store all the information needed for immediate access has a significant and growing carbon footprint, and that in the UK, it has been suggested that PC’s and servers may account for 50 per cent of household energy requirements in the next ten years.
There are two sides to the story – as always. So let’s stop the guilt trip for people who find that using paper bills helps them keep on top of their finances in a way that online doesn’t.