So long as business requires that we sign on the dotted line, there will always be a need for fax technology. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll always need fax machines, however. Whether you call it email fax, online fax, electronic fax, or internet fax, it all amounts to the same thing: faxing without ink and paper.
On average, we each consume 10,000 sheets of paper every year. That’s more than an entire tree for each of us to print, mail, and fax a year’s worth of business documents. Fax machines are the most notorious wasters of paper. First, cover sheets consume extra paper with every legitimate fax we send. Even worse, all that fax spam, advertising cheap toner cartridges or the neighborhood lunch spot (complete with three-page menu of course), eats up paper as well.
Chunking the machine and just using a solution that allows you to fax online helps not just you, but also the environment. Email faxes are not printed unless they need to be. This includes the spam faxes (which the better fax online systems allow you to block by phone number). That saves paper and trees, and also ink. This sort of conservation can have a “trickle-up effect”. According to business consultant Heather Clancy, “paper production is second only to petroleum in terms of energy used by U.S. industries.” Using significantly less paper can have a ripple effect on our environment. Trees prevent soil erosion, scrub carbon dioxide from the air and convert it to oxygen. Not cutting them down, transporting them to a factory, reducing them to paper, and then shipping that paper to stores reduces pollution at every step, saves energy, and limits the amount of fossil fuels that need to be consumed in the process, from the trucks used to transport trees and paper, to the (usually) coal-fired power plants needed to run the paper factories. And that reduces the amount of drilling or mining required, and so on.
The quest for the paperless office might be a dated, ‘90s convention, but that’s no reason to waste paper, ink, and energy running a fax machine all the time, or endure the endless flood of fax spam. Internet fax cuts us free of the endless cycle of paper consumption, the documents that need to be filed or destroyed, and the advertisements that eat up the irreplaceable minutes of our business day.
Originally published May 18, 2009, updated May 23, 2021