Will The U.S. Go Paperless In The Next 10 Years?

When we finally understood the internet for what it could be, it became obvious that paper documents, whether they were books or marketing plans, would one day become obsolete.

But here we are in 2012, and we’ve still got daily newspapers, paper medical records, and lots of massive office printers churning through thousands of pounds of paper every year.

But why? Americans have been clear that they’re willing to do without hard copies for a long time. In fact, a recent survey of adults revealed that more than 75% of Americans consider reducing their paper consumption for environmental reasons to be important, with 44% committing to halve their paper consumption during the next 5-10 years.

And we’re not only talking about dumping the daily paper for an online subscription:

  • 48.0% – willing to reduce their use of newspapers
  • 45.9% – willing to reduce their use of magazines
  • 37.6% – willing to reduce their use of forms, contracts, documents
  • 31.6% – willing to reduce their use of books
  • 6.1% – willing to reduce their use of toilet paper

So what’s the hold up? The infographic below sheds some light on why we aren’t already living with paperless offices and homes. And why it’s inevitable that we someday will (click through to zoom).

Infographic_The Paperless OfficeRelated Reading:

Erasable E-Paper Can Be Used Over 250 Times

Ancient Trees Used For Toilet Paper

Mourning The Death Of The Paper Book? Not So Fast!


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie C7 years ago

I don't see us going Paperless in 10 years. I've had 2 computers crash on me and most of what I had on them was lost completely. I want to hold a book or a magazine in my hands so I can take it with me wherever I go (doctor, the beach, vacation, etc..). I want the paperwork when I buy a car or whatever so I can make sure there are no mistakes.

Michael C.
Michael C7 years ago

To date, our paper society has allowed us to retain a degree of control of our currency, our lives, and our prospects for the future.

Any discussion further, lies in hypuravaly, this discussion is too vast for so few words.

To allow a system to go paperless would create a state of constant fear...a single stroke of a key and all is lost. Think...Y2K!!!!

Jay Williamson
Jay w7 years ago

i cant understand that newspapers continue i read all my news online its only because people keep giving these big corporations their money that they keep churning out papers. I am in the process of getting all my bills sent to me online and saving for a kindle so I can read my books electronically. We dont need to continue to print in this day and age.

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P7 years ago

I don't like e-books and e-mags..they don't seem the same and not really worth the money

Chad A.
Chad A7 years ago

I do not see this happening... I have been living in a far more wired society-Korea and everything is backed up in paper and filed in paper first and there are too many security concerns about hackability. Paper is hard to hack. Paper may decline and be more efficiently used and reused and recycled, but I think paperless will tak longer than 10 years (I am sure I will live to regret this prediction!).

Hannah Short
Hannah Short7 years ago

if living without paper means everything has to be electronic then no i cant live without paper, i love to read books, i dont use credit cards, and i want to be a writer, i write on paper first so i can take it with me and not have to worry about being on the computer for so long.
But if being paperless means not having to worry about jobs, and living off the earth then yes i can

Anne H.
Anne H7 years ago

To answer those who were surprised with my using less TP idea (below). We are all a little uncomfortable with this issue but it is important.


There is also the option of washable clothes being used and then stored in a wet bag (http://www.thestorkwearhouse.com/Planet-Wise-Small-Wet-Bag-p/pw-swb.htm)or covered bin until washing. This is much like the system used for diapers and surprisingly easy to try and maintain once you get past the yuck factor. I found my clothes at a thrift, their previous life was well used baby swaddlings. If properly maintained there is no smell & even using for #1 would greatly reduce the impact.

If your "output" is healthy there is less residue to clean off & less smell so this too would reduce consumption. Softer is not always better although it is a good marketing topic.

Along these lines womens mentrual care items are also paper products unless you go with cloth such as glad rags or a menstrual cup such as the Diva. Personally the last one changed my life it is such a wonderful product. I wish I'd known about this earlier in life.

All these things mean a little effort on our parts to change our habits but once we did them I wondered why I hadn't tried them earlier.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B7 years ago


Sam M.
Sam E M7 years ago

How do you reduce your use of toilet paper - hold it all in till bursting point so you go less often? I wonder what effect that would have on health long-term.
All those computer files with no paper back-up, what happens if there's an electronic failure?
Is using more electricity, needed to run all these computers, ecologically better than using paper?