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Unexpected Benefits of the Pandemic

August 23, 2023

It’s hard to believe that we are 3+ years from the official start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Oh, how our lives have changed. Covid-19 has been a challenging time and has affected all of us in some way, in both our work and/or personal lives. While the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to linger and should not be forgotten, there have been some unexpected benefits as a result of the pandemic – for companies, individuals and the environment. 

Some examples of which we are all familiar: 

Impact on Companies

  • Elimination or scaling down of physical office locations, ergo lower/no rent and associated costs (e.g., electricity) 
  • Reduction in the use of office supplies/equipment (paper, printer ink, heavy-duty printers, etc.) 

Individual Impact 

  • Reduction of travel costs  
  • Lower car insurance costs – Interestingly, my insurance carrier now classifies my vehicle as being used for “pleasure driving only”. 
  • Less dining out or the ever-popular coffee or drink run in the afternoon 
  • Personal time savings (less/no commute time) 
  • Fewer expenditures on clothing 

Environmental Benefits 

  • Fewer people commuting, less pollution/congestion 
  • Increased sustainability of natural resources 

Personal Revelation – Diminished Use of Printer Paper

The shift to working from home has been one of the most significant changes brought about by the pandemic. As I reflect on my time working remotely, I’m struck by how my work habits and work style have shifted to accommodate my new surroundings. 

The most striking change for me has been my personal use of printer paper. It’s not that I threw caution to the wind when I printed in the office, but I did tend to print documents that I needed to review/check for accuracy; for me, it was just more efficient.  Also, as fellow “those who printed in the office” people can attest, in-office printing was speedy, plus there was the added benefit of knowing that secure recycling and shredding was within reach.    

Over time, I’ve learned to adjust my habits in many ways. First and foremost, I’m happy to say, printing for me is a rarity now.   

As I quietly gave myself a high-five, I became curious as to how I could quantify my social contribution to the conservation of trees. 

Fun fact: An average tree, designated as a “paper tree”, can produce approximately 16 reams of paper. [1] There are many calculations available, but most tend to cluster around this figure. 

Based on my estimation, if individual usage equated to 1 ream of paper per month, 2.5 trees have been spared for just one person since the start of the pandemic (~40 months). Once I started doing the math across the board, the realization of what this means to the environment was staggering. 

Quantifying the number of trees spared is one variable, but I became curious to uncover more about the paper making process itself. 

In addition to the trees, inputs into producing paper include water, clay, chemicals, power and other natural resources.[2]

So, the next time you have an urge to print something, you might want to reconsider. I know I do! 

[1] Georgette Kilgore – Forestry, Trees and Tree Planting  |  April 4, 2023
[2] Ruark, Craig. “How Many Sheets of Paper Does One Tree Produce?” Business Finance Corporation, 10 July 2014,

Written by Vicki Wheatley, Senior Director.