Paper or plastic?
It used to be one of the dominant decisions for consumers.
But as more and more supermarkets and other stores have phased out the use of so-called disposable plastic bags, a different environmental question still lingers: Paper or electronic? Bills, that is.
For many people, paying bills online is a no-brainer way to save time and resources. But millions of Americans continue to receive all their bills by mail, which they pay with paper checks, send with postage, and add to the handling of even more paper mail moving around the country.
It’s estimated that if every American household went paper-free for bill-paying the environmental impact would include
- Reducing solid waste in U.S. landfills by more than 800,000 tons a year
- Saving an estimated 18.5 million trees every year
- Curbing the release of greenhouse gases by 2.1 million tons a year
Some hard-copy holdouts cite security concerns in not going paperless. But others are unable or unwilling to cross a psychological barrier. “I choose to get and pay my bills by mail because it feels more substantial to me,” says a 30 year-old colleague who otherwise recycles and reduces elsewhere in her life. “I just don’t think it’s my responsibility to go paperless if it makes me feel insecure.”
Tell us what you think: Should you be responsible for reducing your carbon footprint by putting away the checkbook and paying bills electronically? When the environmentally responsible route makes you feel uneasy, is it personally responsible to override it?