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Paper has been getting a bad rap lately. There’s no denying that it’s not the most sustainable product. Paper manufacturing contributes to deforestation and pollutes water and air. Too much paper ends up in landfills where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas.

However, the availability of recycling has improved the green rating of paper. The U.S. EPA reports that over 2/3 of paper and paperboard were recycled in recent years. Today, much of the paper made for office use is manufactured from recycled paper.

And some of that recycled paper is the result of digitization. As part of the document conversion process, many paper documents are designated for disposal – secure disposal that protects sensitive data – and those properly disposed papers can be recycled.

Digitization offers numerous benefits: reduced storage space, improved security, remote access, and improved sustainability. Nevertheless, paper still serves a valuable purpose, as recent studies have shown.

Writing and printing paper, in particular, are surprisingly important. Writing by hand involves many parts of the brain and sensory system: tactile, spatial, and linguistic. That complexity helps fix the written word in the memory. One University of Tokyo study showed that students’ handwritten note-taking produced better recall an hour later. One example: If you’ve ever written a grocery list and left it at home, you probably found you could still remember a good number of the list’s items.

Books and paper documents, too, showed enhanced recall in comparison to digital documents. Often, book readers can recall the specific location on a page where an important fact was stated.

The takeaway:

  • Information that needs to be remembered should be delivered on paper, and handwritten notes should be taken.
  • Information that doesn’t need to be recalled in detail, but quickly and accurately searched and accessed as needed, is ideally stored in digital format.

Many, many business documents fit that latter description, which is one of the reasons digitization is a good business practice. As noted above, the benefits have a positive effect on your bottom line.

And now, if you want to remember what you’ve just read here, print it out and take some notes!


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