Yet another file format – but is it ‘green’?

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We are all guilty of wasting paper – our supposedly ‘paperless society’ just doesn’t exist. Around the world we use 1 million tonnes of paper every day – much of it not really necessary. This is a concern to the green movement and so The World Wildlife Fund have developed a new file format to try to ‘help’ us save paper.

But, I am not sure if it’s  genius or dumb!

The WWF have created a new PDF-like file format which has one crucial difference – you can’t print it out. The three-letter file extension is, of course, .wwf. You need to install free software to create .wwf documents, but most PDF readers will open them.

The first part of the rationale appears straightforward. Paper waste threatens some of the last remaining natural forests and the people and wildlife that depend on them. The world’s paper hunger also significantly contributes to climate change.

So using less paper would on the face of it be good.  But it raises a few issues too;

It could be suggested that WWF doesn’t think you are bright enough to make your own choices on printing?

It could also be argued that if you use paper that has been produced from sustainably managed forests, (and the WWF launched a site called Check your paper last week, where you can check on the provenance of your paper), that you are actually helping maintain trees by printing.

Lastly, presumably if you stare at a document long enough on your computer, the electricity you’ll have burned would result in emissions greater than that of the paper you could have printed!

WWF say that no-one is forced to use the format and the project has been useful in raising awareness – but do we really need it?


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