As a Writer, I Help Paper Fulfill Its Destiny
People read between the lines, I write between the lines
In this article, first I discuss various scenarios where paper is still being used despite widespread digitization. Then I share how I re-use paper and in a sense help them fulfill their destiny of being used completely.
Today I found another sheet of paper, an invoice for the home delivery we received from Amazon. One side was completely blank, the other side had about a quarter of space left blank. They were going to crumple it or tear it and throw it into the garbage bin. I rescued it, the way I have rescued many such sheets of paper with much potential left to serve the world with the blank space left in them.
A few weeks ago, we received a big package that had a set of glass vessels containing an edible item to be consumed. This package was stuffed with brown papers, which are also essentially blank and can still serve the world with the blank space in them.
Every month I visit ATM to withdraw cash for monthly expenses. I deliberately and happily press “no” when the machine asks me about printing the receipt of the transaction. But on the floor of the ATM room and inside a dustbin beside it, I see many paper receipts, another waste of paper. Similarly, printed bills in supermarkets and restaurants are also a waste of paper. While I can choose to not waste paper while using ATMs, I don’t have such a say in restaurants and supermarkets because they still haven’t completely moved on to sending digital bills via email or SMS.
Many agencies, especially government ones and even many private ones are heavily dependent on the use of paper. I have noticed this a lot in banks. Perhaps they still trust something tangible like a sheet of paper than something that runs on electricity and stores their data in a form they don’t understand.
Information-based Paper use:
While the use of paper has reduced to a large extent, paper is still widely used in many aspects of our lives. I would like to categorize these uses as follows:
- Information Dense: Many people still enjoy holding a book or a newspaper while reading it. The space available in the paper gets utilized to a large extent.
- Information Sparse: The cases I discussed above where a large portion of the paper is blank and can be used.
A Writer’s Way of Re-using Paper:
Being a writer, I used to buy a lot of diaries and notebooks (both hard-bound) to write my thoughts, opinions, observations, and one-liners. I realized that some blank space could also be present in invoices, receipts, or some expired government documents. I began making small writing pads by collecting small sheets of paper of similar size (bills, receipts, invoices, etc.) and stapling them together.
Sometimes I go to an extreme by first filing the paper by writing with a pencil and then either writing over it with a pen or erasing the pencil writing and writing again on it with a pencil. Another one of my extreme behavior has been to write between the lines that provide enough gap for my writing to fit in. These extreme ways could be used for something that you will probably not look at ever again, such as to brainstorm ideas or release pent-up emotions, for positive affirmations, or warm up your mind before your actual writing task. For note-taking about something important, the pads like what I’ve shown in the image above are more reliable.
Thus, I re-use the papers by filling the blank areas on the paper so that it becomes full before being discarded. This way, I believe that as a writer, I help the paper fulfill its destiny before it goes into a landfill or a recycle machine.