While cleaning my room I just had the mind-boggling realization that it's possible I haven't bought any paper this semester. In fact, I think the ream of paper sitting next to my printer is actually the same package I bought when I got to New York. I certainly can't remember the last time I bought some. I only plugged in my printer and installed the drivers on my "new" computer (barely newer than this blog) so that I could print out the required three copies of my master's project. It's not that I print a whole lot at school either. Last semester i must have gone through several reams of Journalism school paper, but while printing out some Lexis-Nexis searches last week I realized it was the first time I'd had to use the printer in weeks if not months. I'm still using the mega-pack of steno pads I bought near City hall last year, and I increasingly take notes on my laptop.
Why is there so much paper in my room then?! Well, I get an awful lot of hand outs from class, I buy and pick up an awful lot of newspapers and magazines, and I collect flyers and scraps and cards like crazy. But it's still significantly less than it was last semester. In fact, much of the debris in here is actually still the huge pile from last semester that I never adaquately dealt with. I no longer subscribe to the Sunday Times, sometimes browsing my roommate's copy while I eat, but rarely actually reading it in hardcopy. I no longer subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, reading it online. My already bad handwriting has gotten worse from lack of formal use. I take notes, plot out ideas, even draw things on my non-tablet laptop. I got tired of losing notebooks and digging for notes, so I started taking them on m laptop whenever I possibly could.
I think the biggest key to my not printing things out all the time was the simple fact that it's incredibly inconvenient to the arrangement of my room to have the printer be plugged in all the time. Like having a static-plagued or nonexistent TV, simply unplugging the thing made me stop using it. So perhaps the proliferation of cheap and easy printers is the biggest obstacle to achieving a paperless world. On the other hand, my wrists probably wouldn't mind the death of a few more trees.