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Why You Shouldn't Go Completely Paperless

The notion of going paperless is popular – from digital documents to e-signatures and e-books. Going paperless may not always be the best solution. Paper continues to offer numerous advantages as a medium of choice for reading and writing. It’s also secure and provides an accessible option.

There are benefits to taking a balanced approach between digital and paper-based options. Let's explore why.


Paper provides a tangible connection. It also helps you learn and retain information better.

Studies show reading on paper helps readers better comprehend information. So does taking notes on paper.

Paper is an invaluable tool for learning, brainstorming and creative thinking.


While digital storage is convenient, it is not without cyber threats and vulnerabilities.

Cybersecurity risks and data breaches continue to be a growing concern.

Physical copies can help ensure the safety and reliability of critical information, providing peace of mind.

Paper-based records offer an alternative to reduce digital theft, hacking or accidental data loss.


The digital divide persists in America. The Federal Communications Commission estimates 25% of rural Americans do not have access to broadband.

By going paperless, or imposing fees to choose paper, we risk excluding people from essential information and services like prescription information or Social Security benefits.

Printed materials offer accessible options for those with disabilities like vision impairments or dyslexia.

Paper-based materials ensure everyone has access to crucial documents. This includes government forms, legal contracts and healthcare records.

Providing both digital and paper options promote inclusivity and accessibility.


Paper is a sustainable option for modern life. And the paper industry is an advocate for sustainable forestry. Through our Better Practices, Better Planet 2030 goals, our members are reducing emissions, managing water resources and increasing energy efficiency.

The paper and wood products industry was among the first manufacturing industries to take voluntary action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Since 2005, AF&PA members have reduced GHG emissions by more than 24%. And they’ve committed to reducing GHG emissions by 50% by 2030.

Paper products are made from renewable resources – trees and recycled paper. About 80% of U.S. paper mills use some recycled paper fiber to make renewable products like office paper, newspaper, books and magazines.

Even with digitization, it’s important to recognize the enduring value of paper.

A balanced approach takes advantage of paper-based options.

Shredded Paper

How Do You Recycle Shredded Paper? 

Can you recycle shredded paper? Yes, but shredding it makes the paper less likely to be recycled if small bits of paper aren't properly contained. Only shred things with sensitive information to protect your privacy. 

A pizza box being placed in a blue recycling cart already filled with paper items.

Paper Products and Materials Widely Accepted for Recycling

The vast majority of Americans have access to a community paper recycling program. Items like pizza boxes, cardboard boxes and paper bags are widely collected for recycling in the United States.

Sustainable Paper Products

Is the Paper Industry Sustainable?

The answer is yes! Your essential paper products are sustainable. The paper industry is a leader in sustainability, taking steps to reduce GHG emissions, increase energy efficiency and advance sustainable forest management. 

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) serves to advance U.S. paper and wood products manufacturers through fact-based public policy and marketplace advocacy. The forest products industry is circular by nature. AF&PA member companies make essential products from renewable and recyclable resources, generate renewable bioenergy and are committed to continuous improvement through the industry’s sustainability initiative —Better Practices, Better Planet 2030: Sustainable Products for a Sustainable Future. The forest products industry accounts for approximately 5% of the total U.S. manufacturing GDP, manufactures about $350 billion in products annually and employs about 925,000 people. The industry meets a payroll of about $65 billion annually and is among the top 10 manufacturing sector employers in 43 states. Visit AF&PA online at or follow us on Twitter @ForestandPaper