Today is World Environment Day, and this post will try and identify the changes that have taken place in this office, more specifically in the last 10-15 years, that help save some of our forests.
The Paperless Revolution
As someone who has been handling paper throughout my life in various forms (books, textbooks, newspapers, dictionaries, formal paperwork…), I can tell that one of the most important changes has been the shift to a paperless, or quasi-paperless office (although you couldn’t tell, by looking at my desk!). Whereas a total paperless solution is not possible yet, huge advances have been made.
I used to work on big projects that were fully paper-based, involving the processing of printed copies of documents received by post or by courier. I was lucky to be able to use PC’s at a very early stage, but for practical purposes it was necessary to print many files: not only to preserve eye sight when checking translations, but because word processing wasn’t always reliable for text and picture placement. (I’ve always worked for publication.) Likewise spellcheckers, however great, don’t catch every single mistake, and it was easier to do one last quick check on a printout. Also, with the kind of translations I specialize in, style is important and I find a printed copy easier to check. Finally, one printed copy of the translation (if not more…) had to be delivered.
This is less obvious, but until fairly recently, I was receiving huge piles of printed documents for a 2-3 day conference, with perhaps 6-8 presentations per day, sometimes both in English and in French, printed on one side. These made for very thick and heavy envelopes sent by mail. And those collections were sent to 2, 3, 4 or more interpreters at a time…
Keeping on top of what’s going on in the world is essential for interpreters and translators. Unfortunately for the printed press, I don’t buy newspapers anymore, I now read every article on the computer. Everything is fast, easy to bookmark and retrieve if necessary, and the papers don’t end up in a pile on the floor. Del.icio.us, instead of scissors, has become my best friend.
Dictionaries and Reference:
Yes, I still use dictionaries, but I don’t buy the printed copies anymore. I don’t buy printed reference books either, or only the ones that I fall in love with.
There are other components, such as bookkeeping. Although I use a software package, and the French Government is pushing for all-electronic procedures, the required archiving of invoices, receipts, etc. is still more secure on paper for a small business like mine.
This is not enough, of course, but it’s a step in the right direction. I do print things off the Internet, but I use much less paper nowadays, and I never throw away a sheet of paper that’s blank on one side.
What about you? In what areas do you feel you are helping the environment best?