Monday, September 4, 2006

Banking Is Murder? The Industry’s Nefarious Quest For Paper-Free Finances

Author: Nick
Category: Money

banks turn over a new leaf

If you’ve ever received a bank statement or credit card bill, or if you’ve ever mailed a check to pay a bill, then you killed a tree to get the job done. Well, you may not have directly chopped down that tree, but your demand for paper was enough to sentence that poor oak or pine to its unnatural demise.

At least that’s the story that banks want you to believe. You may have noticed recently that your banks and credit card companies have been pushing products like paperless statements and billing. Usually that push will be accompanied by a message urging you to think of the impact that your three-page monthly statement has on the environment. For example, consider this recent advertisement seen by certain Chase customers:

switch to paperless statements or you hate the environment

Some financial institutions are so dedicated in their mission to save our forests that they’ll even chip in their own cash to help make it happen. Bank of America recently announced its plan to encourage users to switch to paper-free banking.

When you stop your monthly paper checking, savings or money market account statement, Bank of America will acknowledge your efforts by donating $1 to The Nature Conservancy’s reforestation programs.

Obviously if you choose to continue receiving paper statements and bills, then you’re just a filthy tree murderer, right? No, more like absolutely wrong.

Paper isn’t threatening our forests, and there will still be plenty of trees if you continue receiving paper bank statements. Here are some facts you may not know about how paper is made.

  • Most paper doesn’t come from trees. Well, it does, but not directly from trees. Instead, much of our paper supply is made from wood chips and sawdust left from other wood manufacturing.
  • One tree dies, two take its place. For every tree harvested, two others are planted. Timber companies, as evil as they may seem, do a great job keeping our forests going. I call this the 2-for-1 rule.
  • Paper trees are born paper trees. Just like farms which grow crops, trees are planted and harvested in special tree farms. Reducing your paper use won’t save these trees from death; they just wouldn’t be planted in the first place.

In short, use all the paper you want. If we all stopped using paper today, we’d have fewer trees in 20 years since there wouldn’t be timber companies planting more trees than they cut down. As strange as it sounds, because of the 2-for-1 rule, you are helping the environment by using paper.

So if bank statements don’t equate to the utter annihilation of our world’s forests, then why are banks pushing for you to “do the right thing” and cut back on your paper usage? Come on… think hard…

Yes! Paper still costs banks money! It costs them money to print statements. It costs them money to mail those statements to you. How much does it cost banks to send your statement to you over the internet instead? Virtually nothing. That’s why you’ll sometimes see banks offer you bribes for your switch to paperless; they’ll make that money back in no time.

So don’t let those seemingly tree-hugging banks fool you into going paper-free. Those monthly statements create jobs for timber workers, postal employees, and countless other people. The paper they use does not devastate our forests. And you can be sure that you’ll never see any of the money banks may save if you go paperless.

Want further evidence that banks and credit card companies are only in this for the money? Check out Chase’s post-payment instructions from their website:

print a copy of this page for your tree-murdering records

So Chase doesn’t mind asking you to kill your own trees, but don’t you dare touch any of theirs.

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