We at Zoho Sign are hoping for a safe, happy, and active Earth Day 2021. Our Earth's natural landscapes are always changing but man-made climate change has created an active dialogue on the environmental impact of the ways we, as humans, conduct our businesses. And as we tackle this threat to our planet, we also currently face a global pandemic that continues to affect the livelihoods of billions of people. In testing times like these, it's occasions like Earth Day that truly represent a beacon of hope for us to turn things around and mitigate the crises.
What is Earth Day?
Earth Day, first instituted in 1970, is celebrated on the 22nd of April to mark the anniversary of the modern environmental movement. It aims to provide a voice to the emerging environmental consciousness and remind us of the opportunities that lie ahead to help restore our planet's ecosystems. Today, Earth Day is observed by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behaviour and effect policy changes at the global, national, and local levels.
Why go paperless?
Every year, the average office worker in the United States uses about 10,000 sheets of copy paper and American businesses spend roughly $120 billion on paper documents of which $8 billion is wasted. The paper industry chops down 20 trees to produce one metric ton of paper, and all these trees put together could annually absorb up to 0.5 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This process also consumes 6.7 million litres of water and releases 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide per metric ton of paper produced. All this means that the rough net carbon emissions is 2 tons for each ton of copy paper. With nearly 65% of all businesses globally still using pen-and-paper to collect signatures for their operations, this can have very dire environmental consequences if it continues.
This is one of the primary reasons why we created Zoho Sign: for businesses to digitize their paperwork and signing processes and thereby reduce their carbon footprint while simultaneously also improving their productivity and efficiency and cutting down their spending.
What's our role?
Zoho Sign shares Zoho's central vision of digital transformation, which is deeply ingrained with our core values of sustainability and environmental consciousness. We, as a company, have already embarked on our mission to embrace greener technologies and alternatives. We started out by building a 5MW solar power plant in rural South India to power some of our offices and data centres, and hope to see this reproduced for our other offices across the world. We are also actively adopting a hub-and-spoke office model by opening up offices in several rural districts in South India where most of our workforce is from. This has been done to reduce the burden of long commutes and also inculcate social sustainability by providing accessible opportunities to rural communities. We wanted it not only to be our corporate responsibility to make sure our customers' businesses can run entirely online, but also our social responsibility to make sure that our suite of products which enables them to do so is crafted with love in our employees' own environmentally empowered households. This Earth Day, we are also backing ForestPlanet, Inc., an organization that supports reforestation projects all over the world, in its drive to plant 50,000 trees through our Zoho Influence programme.
What's Zoho Sign's impact so far?
On average, Zoho Sign's users upload 1.5 documents per envelope or request, and each document has 3 pages, meaning 4.5 pages per signature request. Over the last three years, our users have signed over 10 million documents and have therefore prevented the use of 45 million sheets of paper on average. This in turn has helped prevent 1800 trees from being cut down, 135 tons of carbon emissions from being released, and 511 million litres of water from being consumed. It also resulted in 43.2 tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide being displaced by the trees left standing. Given each paper document costs roughly $20 to print, sign, and, process, Zoho Sign has therefore helped businesses save a cumulative $200 million so far, in addition to its environmental impact.
What you can do?
The power to stop climate change lies in the collective effort of all businesses and individuals across the world in their adoption of alternative, sustainable, and greener practices. A basic step in this direction for businesses would be to discourage the use of paper and paper-based documents and switch to a cloud-based solution like Zoho Sign to manage all business documents easily and effectively, get them signed, and store them securely.
Awareness and change come not only through practice but also through active advocacy. So, we urge you to explore and engage in the various options for activism under the Earth Day umbrella such as organizing a teach-in and organizing a clean-up.
If you're a Zoho Sign customer, you can rest assured that you've been an active part of our environmental quest. You can check how you have contributed to our journey by logging into your account and visiting the Reports section to see the number of documents you and your associates have digitally signed.
Feel free to bring about a change in whichever way you can and let us know what you did. We'd be delighted to know if our message or Zoho Sign played even a minor part in it. Cheers.
Happy Earth Day!