There’s a substitute for paper, there’s none for trees! Really?

by Yash

papertree.gif

I keep getting this mailer from HDFC Bank about opting for e-statements and saving paper thus saving trees. I get a paper statement of my account every quarter and for my company’s account every month. This particular letter with the headline “There’s a substitute for paper, there’s none for the trees” is invariably sent with each statement. Not just the bank account statement, it comes with the credit card statement too.

The intent of the bank is to get me opt for e-statements instead of paper statements, but why waste another piece of paper for giving that message? Its like sticking a poster on a wall with a message “don’t stick poster here”. The real intent on the part of the bank is not to help environment but to save on their stationary and mailing costs. If the bank really wants to save trees then they can just print it on top of the actual account statement instead of sending a whole new sheet of paper! The bank really wants to save the money and that’s it. They don’t give a damn about being environment friendly or so. You want to do anything you have fill up a physical form. You want to register for net banking, fill a form. Want the third party transfer facility – fill another form, want to register for bill pay? Another form. Want to apply for a debit/credit card, loan – more forms! If you really want to save the trees, why don’t you get rid of all these forms first? Why pester the clients with mailers about opting for e-statements?

People need e-statements because they need to file them for various purposes. If I opt for e-statements, I will still have a to take a printout in order to file it. And that statement won’t work if I have to apply for a loan tomorrow (I have personal experience of it). So even e-statements don’t solve the ultimate purpose of saving the trees. Banks don’t just waste paper on advises about saving the trees, they also waste a lot of paper and that too of very high quality on various promotional material that is sent along with the monthly statement. Mouth watering offers on credit cards or student checking accounts, guidelines on using your net banking and credit cards effectively, mailers about balance transfer, EMI on call etc waste more paper than my one page account statement! If you want to save paper, stop sending these or just use the space at the back of the statement for that purpose!

People keep talking about paperless offices and paperless societies, but we can’t achieve a paperless world until all the systems are changed in tandem  to work sans paper! Ever applied for a PAN card online? You can go online and fill up your PAN card application online and even pay the requisite fees online, but then you have to take a print out of the filled application form and have to mail it along with all the required proofs in order to get your PAN card! Ridiculous! Why do I need to submit a physical application if I have applied online? The data is already with you in electronic format, just use it! You want a proof of residence and identity? I can scan the required documents and attach them! What’s a big deal? But no! The systems haven’t really evolved to that level and until they evolve to that level, I will have to keep filing my monthly bank account statements and till then I can’t opt for e-statements!