A recent campaign by the Canada Revenue Agency indicates that marketing messages touting the environmental claims of going paperless are falling on deaf ears.
The agency randomly selected 25,000 Canadians who had been filing annual income taxes on paper, sending them letters to test whether increasingly stronger messages of environmental sustainability would promote a switch to online. The result, according to CBC News? “There was no evidence to indicate that any of the environmental messages were more effective than a generic message or vice-versa.”
Paper industry advocacy group, Two Sides, says that many people prefer or need paper documents. They are perceived as safer, more secure, trusted, preferred for ease of reading, as a reminder to pay bills, and for archiving. According to a 2017 US consumer survey, about 35% of people say they print electronic documents at home or at the office. Corporations eliminating paper-based options are therefore seen as just passing on their paper and printing costs to their customers. People without internet access or who lack the skills and ability to go online (many seniors and disabled, for example) need and rely on paper statements.
Consumers are also becoming smarter in discerning the truthfulness (or otherwise) of corporate environmental claims. Many consumers are skeptical of such messages with at least half either not believing, feeling misled, or questioning “go paperless, go green” claims. Some of these misleading and “green” claims fail to meet the requirements of published guidelines and laws such those of the Competition Bureau of Canada. There’s also a growing awareness of the environmental impact of the digital option: the increased use of non-renewable resources, energy consumption, and the problem of e-waste.
Check out two sections in my book: THE ‘TREE-FREE’ MOVEMENT CLAIMS THAT GOING PAPERLESS ‘SAVES TREES’ (page 70) and IS DIGITAL BETTER THAN PAPER, E-BOOKS BETTER THAN TREE-BOOKS? (page 75).