"Get your statements online", save a tree?

Aren’t trees used to make paper grown like a crop? Fast growing pulp trees are harvested like corn and new trees are planted for the future.

Are “regular” trees actually cut down and used to make paper?

It still takes years to do it, but the real reason for it is not environmentalism.

It’s to cut postage costs.

Even if the reason it’s done is not environmentalism, the net effect is to reduce the amount of resouces used to get the information to the customer. Which means it’s a net plus for the environment.

I wish my insurance company would do this. The monthly premiums are paid electronically, but they send out statements by mail. They save some money by only sending them out only when the amount changes from one month to the next. That’s not enough. Especially when the annual premum divided by 12 comes out with a fractional cent (usually either a third or two-thirds of a cent, as mine has the last two years). Then the amount they deduct from my bank account changes by one penny two out of every three months. Which means I’m still getting a statement by mail most months.

Any area used to grow trees as a crop is an area not available for a full complex forest ecosystem. And increased demand for wood products also means increased pressure to cut old growth forest.

That is done in sustainable forestry, but not all forests are managed that way. Unsustainable forestry, where existing woods are simply cut down without planting new trees, also exists, particularly in emerging economies, and paper made that way does find its way to European and North American markets.

All of the above is true, when you’re talking about statements from an established account where the bank or company already has nearly all of your personal information.

Don’t slop the thinking over onto things like emailed receipts, where the eco goals are tiny and almost irrelevant against the real goal of getting your individual contact/tracking information. Some day paper receipts will go away entirely, but for now, most stores pushing e-receipts may as well be begging you to sign up for their marketing list (and the lists of their suppliers, and very likely the resale contact list market).

There are valid reasons to reduce the use of paper products, such as limiting domestic waste volumes, but expanding complex forest ecosystems and protecting old growth forests are unrelated issues. If it becomes uneconomical to use a particular tract of land for pulp wood production, the owner will find some other commercial use for the land; other crops, new warehouses, golf courses. Complex ecosystems may be a good thing for the planet, but they’re not usually profitable. And if the demand for paper goes up, it will always be more economical to grow trees specifically for that purpose than to harvest old growth forests for pulp wood.

This will be true only in societies with proper costing, land ownership, etc.

In a place where squatter loggers can simply confiscate virgin forest and harvest the trees for free, the economics favor deforestation, not sustainable tree agriculture.

In how many third world countries is online banking vs. paper statements a relevant factor? Most deforestation is done to clear the land for agriculture or urban construction. Logging for high value timber and fuel also contribute. The paper industry simply does not play a role in the destruction of old growth forests. In fact, the number of trees in existence is increased because of the paper industry. As I stated in the earlier post, if it becomes uneconomical to grow pulp wood, the land will be converted to some other use. Think of it this way; a tree farmer harvests a tract of land and must decide what to do with the available acreage. If the paper industry is prospering, he re-plants trees. Otherwise, he finds some alternate, more profitable, use for the land. This alternate use will not include a full complex forest ecosystem.