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Anniversary of Paperless Life

In less than a month it's going to be a year since I stopped storing paper. Last spring before my move from Madrona to Capitol Hill I did a bit of spring-cleaning. As I was cleaning out my closets and the attic I realized how much old and useless stuff I had. Some of my old tech toys ended up with my friends. Most of my old clothes ended up at Good Will. And then I started cleaning out my files. For a guy who has been on the bleeding edge of tech for a bit I had a surprising amount of old statements and receipts. Consolidated it was three full boxes.

During my childhood my parents told me not to lose paper. I remember carefully storing and filing my bank statements “just in case something happened.” My car was hit in the late nineties and sure enough I had a full folder of papers for a car that was totaled a decade ago. I was torn: I had an emotional attachment to my old dusty paper, yet I was too lazy to move these boxes with me. I decided that I am going to go paperless.

I decided to scan some of the most important documents from my past and have them backed up online. I promised to myself that going forward I would not store any more paper. It seemed like in the age of Internet it should be pretty easy. After all Chase already offered paperless statements and Fidelity did too. My Comcast bill could be viewed and paid online and so was AT&T’s. Those were the first steps and they took care of a lot of my paper.

This seemed like a piece of cake and I lasted without accumulating any more paper for about a month. Then I had a dentist appointment. My dentist is great when it comes to my teeth, but his assistant still writes the bills by hand and stuffs them in little blue envelopes that cost 40 cents to deliver less than a mile. My accountant insisted on sending me things via mail and the worst was healthcare. Between the Polyclinic on Broadway and Regence I must have 5 letters for every visit to the doctor.

I had to counteract this somehow. I employed two services: for anything where people wanted me to sign anything I used DocuSign and for all the paper that people wanted to send me still I created an Earth Class Mail account.

It took a little getting used to. Not for me, but for all the people that all of a sudden were shocked that I resisted their attempts to send me pages of stuff in the mail. My accountant was probably the most shocked. I kept telling her that I really don’t want my tax return sent to me. I kept reminding to send me things in a PDF file via some secure delivery service such as our own DocuSign, but she kept on trying to give me paper. Thankfully EarthClassMail would scan it in and then, if there were signatures required, I would DocuSign it and send it back to her via e-mail.

So after 5-6 months of constantly attempting to fend off the influx of paper at my door I finally ended up getting most of my important mail electronically. My life has altered a bit. I stopped going to my mailbox to see if there is anything new. The only new things were junk mail from Pizza Hut and Office Max. I tried taking that stuff out and putting it into the recycling bin but then I got lazy about that too. I stopped going to the mailbox altogether. On the eleventh month I went to clean my mailbox one more time and to my surprise it was completely clean with just a yellow note from my local post office. It read: “Your address has been marked as vacant.” According to the old paper world I might no longer exist.
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