Paper and the Righteous Blog

As REALTORS, we use a lot of paper. We use it at a tremendous personal cost. In the short term it’s the trees. They are the first soldiers to fall. In the end, we the people of this earth, ultimately suffer the most.

About 2000 years ago the first paper appeared. It was rough. The quality got better as time passed but paper really hit its stride when Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1400’s. Retrospectively, I remember listening to Tech-Guru’s expounding the virtues of using a computer loaded with a ubiquitous word processor such as “Symphony”. They claimed that you could edit any piece of writing endlessly. Save paper, print only one sheet and end the waste! I’m certain that and many other things tech, didn’t happen. A scant survey of my colleagues tells me that the opposite applies. A quick look at the number of forms required to complete a real estate transaction is overwhelming. I dread to look at amount of paper the other parties to the transaction use. The lawyers, the mid office people, the couriers, the banks to name a few. I do not know who is responsible for this consumption. If anyone is to blame, it is simpler to point the finger at someone who can do you no harm. To be safe I pick Gutenberg, he started it.

Consider the following.

According to the Conservatree group from San Francisco

  • 1 ton of uncoated virgin (non-recycled) printing and office paper uses 24 trees
  • 1 ton of 100% virgin (non-recycled) newsprint uses 12 trees
  • A “pallet” of copier paper (20-lb. sheet weight, or 20#) contains 40 cartons and weighs 1 ton. Therefore,
  • 1 carton (10 reams) of 100% virgin copier paper uses .6 trees
  • 1 tree makes 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,333.3 sheets
  • 1 ream (500 sheets) uses 6% of a tree (and those add up quickly!)
  • 1 ton of coated, higher-end virgin magazine paper (used for magazines like National Geographic and many others) uses a little more than 15 trees (15.36)
  • 1 ton of coated, lower-end virgin magazine paper (used for newsmagazines and most catalogs) uses nearly 8 trees (7.68)

I really do hate facts! It means I can no longer find solace in ignorance for now I know that I am an eco-consumer-pig. If 1 ream of paper = 6% of a tree, the calculations of my own consumption means I use about 4 trees a year every year. With 24 years of real estate under my belt, that adds up to 92 trees. I’m only referring to my personal use. There is more.

I cannot speak for the lawyers, the middle people and the banks that funnel a transaction through their paper systems. I assume everybody needs a complete record in duplicate. I’m guessing that it takes 1 ream of paper (500 sheets), per transaction, to get the job done. Accordingly, 16 transactions equals 1 tree. As of this posting there were approximately 34,000 transactions in my local Real Estate Board. Here’s the arithmetic: 34,000 transactions divided by 16 transaction per tree, equals 2,125 trees. The year hasn’t ended and this consumption will repeat itself again and again as it has in the past. This may not be exact but you get the idea.

In many parts of the world, that is a forest!

How is it possible? Do my activities and those of my fellow REALTORs® really destroy that many trees?

I cringe as I consider a plausible explanation for our gluttony. Who is going to believe me? How can I explain this? Assuming the defiant approach, I say fine. Standing proud I claim that this consumption is all in the name of a good and righteous real estate practice. Where would I be if my overpowering need to prospect did not use paper? How would I survive without this tool? What choice do I have? How will I let my prospects know that I am looking for a job? How can I be effective in my pursuit of business? I need those brochures, mailers, post cards, letters, little writing pads, business cards, open house information sheets, listing printouts for buyers, envelopes, stamps, gift cards, gift-wrap, thank you cards, and of course the thing that pays for all of the above, the trasactions. Whew! That’s a lot of paper. That’s a lot of trees. I’m in shock and I’m humbled. For this earth, that’s not good enough!

What is the alternative? What is the Green Solution?

The Tech-Guru tells me the Green solution is this blog.

They theorize that I should I write, you will read and hopefully you will love me because of my great ideas and opinions. You love me not because I am fabulous and can do a great job, exhibit great writing skills, and love to share SOLD success when life moves you. You love me not because you need, my skills and market reach as a professional REALTOR. No! Not any of those! You will love me because I am trying to do what is right. I am trying to save a lot of trees for you and me. By blogging I am no longer using paper. Blogging allows me to do what’s right for the trees and this earth. Paper is no longer the method commodity. Blogging they say, is the connection, the community between you and me. You applaud as you understand my blogging goal is an extension of my professional ethic and service. To be righteous, and do what is right for all of us!

About Larry Yatkowsky

Larry is a recognized real estate expert. A veteran professional, his experienced counsel leads Vancouverites in his west side community to place their trust in a man passionate about his work. Uncompromising ethics bring a balanced approach to realizing your real estate dreams.

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*Disclaimer: Statistics Courtesy REBGV. While believed to be accurate they are not guaranteed.
**Numbers provided may vary as they are dynamically posted by the REBGV.

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