We all get browbeat about paper waste on a daily basis. At some grocery stores the checker will act like you just pulled a gun on them if you answer paper to the paper-or-plastic question. There have been reasons from time to time that made the switch away from paper make sense.
Recently however, more and more people are recognizing the value of paper as a renewable resource. Take boxed water as an example. It saves on plastic disposable bottles, simple math.
The move to ‘the cloud’, IMHO, has been blindly implemented in true viral fashion. Because of this, going paperless is often a step backward in efficiency and more work for consumer. Going paperless on your pay-stub has long been a possibility. However, many payroll systems are only able to send notifications, not your actual pay-stub. You are required to log in and manually download the file. At first glance this may seem like a benefit, they store the digital version of your pay-stub. The issue lies in archival and accessibility. Change employers and more than likely you will find yourself with more than one archive of pay-stubs. I keep all finance related items handy for three years and keep another four years in storage. Am I likely to be able to access 7yo pay-stubs. Maybe.
My bank was eager to offer a paperless option. How it works is they send me a notification that my statement is ready, and I have to go to their website, log in and manually download the statement. You may see where this is going.
A while back, I decided to go entirely paperless. The first opinion I formed was that all financial related websites suck. Logging in is a chore, finding the document is a pain, and downloading it is slow. Due to my archival habits I found myself blowing hours tracking down documents that previously were handed to me and that I simply turned around and dropped in a file cabinet. After three months I am now fully back to paper statements on everything including things I have had paperless for years.
This made me ask myself: how could it work? OneDrive, DropBox or Google Drive support was my first thought before I quickly dismissed it. This would be problematic since each institution would support on or the other, leaving you without the option of using only one online storage. Plus, who would trust DropBox with their bank statements? The simplest solution would be simply send the statements via email. The problem there is that the world is devoid of easy to use email encryption. My thoughts then go to a pass-phrase protected zip file. Given adequate encryption, I would simply organize and let them set in my gmail.
I see paper as a renewable resource. I live near fast growing lodgepole pine forests. Managed correctly, forests can be harvested and re-planted in a manner that has much less impact than that of oil drilling.
What do you think? Personally, until a proper solution presents itself, I will be ‘Going Papered’.