Paperless Day in UAE

November 29, 2012

by Simran Vedvyas Children of the Earth Chapter Leader United Arab Emirates and India (Northern)

Did you know - Since 1990, land in tropical forests has been disappearing at the rate of one football field every 2 seconds to satisfy the world's demand for paper? Did you know that 80% of all office waste is paper?

We observed Paperless Day in our school in 2012, as we did in 2011.  Paperless Day is an initiative started by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, promoting better paper saving habits for the long-term in an effort to reduce our impact on the environment. At our school, all photocopying was stalled for the day and printing was reduced to a minimum. The school, which uses about 8-10 reams of paper per day on an average, used not even 1 ream in observance.

The students had to study so we used note copies to write notes but were careful to not misuse paper,  keeping in mind the importance of conserving.  We have also been collecting old newspapers and recycling them on a regular basis.


I am sharing some useful tips to help you reduce your wasteful paper use and to get yourself ready for Paperless Day 2013.

Would you like to join the Paperless Movement?

The more people you involve in your paper-saving quest, the more impact your efforts will have. Get involved in Paperless Day with the goal of building better paper-saving habits in the future.

Simple ways to get started in the Paperless Movement are:

1--Make informed choices when buying paper and learn all about what types of paper are more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

2--Think before you Print- DO I REALLY NEED TO?

3--PRINT SMART: use both sides of the paper, minimize font and margin size.


Since paper is so easily available it's easy to forget about its enormous environmental impact. It is recognized that the paper and pulp industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change.  Every step in the life cycle of a sheet of paper contributes to climate change - from cutting down trees, to producing the pulp and paper, to its eventual disposal.

The paper production process significantly contributes to the destruction of forests.  In fact around 40% of the world's commercially cut timber is processed for paper. Half the world's forests have already been cleared or burned, and 80% of what's left has been seriously degraded. Since 1990, 9 million hectares of tropical forest have disappeared every year. That's one football field every 2 seconds!

The loss of forests is more damaging than just the physical loss of trees.  Forests store roughly 50% of all terrestrial carbon, making them one of our most important safeguards against climate change. The destruction of forests also seriously threatens the habitats of many rare and critically endangered plant and animal species including Asian big cats such as Tigers, Asian Elephants, Asian Rhinos, and orangutans.

The paper production process also consumes vast amounts of water and discharges water pollutants, as well as emitting huge quantities of greenhouse gases - a main source of global climate change. In fact, the pulp and paper industry is the fourth largest emitter of industrial greenhouse gases. When it rots, paper emits methane (a greenhouse gas), and it releases the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) when it is composted or burned. When you consider that 80% of office waste is paper, and the large majority of this goes to landfill - it is easy to see there are lot of wasted natural resources, money and time, buried in these landfills.

The UAE has a very high per capita consumption of paper: 175kg.  The global average is 62 kg.  The UAE also has one of the highest ecological footprints in the world. To maintain our current way of living we would need 5.6 planet earths. Reducing wasteful paper use will play an important role in addressing the imbalance of current resource use and will enable a sustainable quality of life.  Paperless Day is an easy and practical way to start on the journey toward being more resource efficient.

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