My Paperless Pledge

Not too long ago, I instituted a paperless policy for my office – I have another hat I wear as a start-up and company consultant – where, as far as possible, I’d force my clients to go paperless as well.

There is no reason to get something printed out on paper when the electronic version was and is the original document of authority. For example, an ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) confirmation on a successful registration of a company is sent via email, and there is absolutely no need to print it out to make it any more successful.

Yet, every single audit firm (and their staff) that I know insist on photocopying or printing these things, because they need to verify the document’s authenticity and originality. This is what I will never understand. But since they’re doing a job for clients of mine (and they’re paid by my clients), I can’t do much except charge them 10 cents for every page printed.

Then there was this client who insisted on having paper invoices sent to him even though he had computers and a working email account, because he claimed that IRAS, ACRA and his auditors required him to collect and keep original paper invoices.

So I told him that IRAS and ACRA had no such rule, and “keeping of accurate records” did not mean that they had to be paper records. He disagreed, and terminated our services for another provider who happily gave him as much paper as he liked.

There are so many tools available to SMEs to keep everything accurately and safely stored in the cloud that there really is no excuse these days to keep files and reams of paper in the office. With this year’s introduction of FAST internet bank transfers, posting a cheque to pay for a bill is becoming a mere excuse to pay that bill late(r).

Detractors point to the dangers of online fraud as a reason not to adopt electronic transfers, even if it’s clear that it’s easier to forge a cheque than to escape the various electronic trails that precede and follow an internet banking transaction.

So, I actually made this “Paperless Pledge” a year ago, and despite getting fired by one client, I’m determined to keep this policy intact. I’m glad to even report that I’m looking for ways to terminate my hire-purchase of my office multifunction printer because we now use it so infrequently.

If you’ve got a similar pledge to mine, let me know, and together we can help plant trees instead of killing them. This is just a small choice to make – whether you print something out or not – but it can make a world of difference.

Make a wish and take the Pledge for Change with me and Kleenex Singapore – You can submit your pledges on Kleenex Singapore’s Facebook Pledge App ( For every 20 wishes placed on the Kleenex Wishing Tree, a real tree will be planted.

Pung Sai Zhoa vs Kleenex Aloe Vera Toilet Tissue

Only triple ply will comply with our bathroom requirements
Only triple ply will comply with our bathroom requirements

Sourcing for the most effective and safest home products has been especially important to us with Kai joining the family four years ago. 

Since then, Naomi’s been a meticulous household shopper – as far as possible, we eat only organic produce at home. I can’t emphasize this often enough – you get enough trans-fat laden, preservative tainted, pesticide-laced food when you go out. We’ve also eradicated as many toxins as possible from our home – we only use castile soap, vinegar and water to clean most surfaces, zero insecticides.

And when it comes to household necessities, people tend to forget about the toilet quite a bit. Thankfully, there’s someone watching our toilet stock closely in our household. Yes.. It has come down to this, I am talking about toilet paper. Actually, it’s not that surprising. Early in the history of this blog/medium, I spoke with mrbrown on one of the first episodes ever of the mrbrownshow podcast, and we talked about toilet paper, and how one of our ACS schoolmates did not know the Mandarin term for it until on a fateful, diarrhea ridden trip to China in the days when China’s food safety was even more of an issue.

That classmate had to use the lavatory in a Chinese city, and he found it lacking in toilet paper of any kind. So he asked, in his best Mandarin translation of the Hokkien term for it,  which was “Pung Sai Zhoa” (literally translates into English as “Shitting Paper”) if he could buy some.

Unbeknownst to him then, our schoolmate had been politely but urgently asking a bewildered Chinese native if he could buy some paper with shit on it.

Seriously though, toilet tissue is an important issue in our household. Thankfully, we’ve been using the Kleenex brand for many years. In our recent trip to the supermarket, we got their new range that’s enriched with Aloe Vera extract.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good toilet tissue. If you’re like me and get to use a public toilet often, you’d have had your fair share of waxy, single ply, crappy toilet paper. Sometimes, the quality of the wipe is less than optimal, and you end up taking half the roll to clean yourself after you’ve done your business.

And need we tell you that when it comes to toilet paper use, the term “breakthrough” is not a positive one.

We don’t have to teach Kai to be this discerning either. Toilet paper to him is either “just nice” or “too scratchy”. And when we’re using the “too scratchy” one, you can count on him being cranky the whole day after. Thank goodness we’ve always used Kleenex tissues at home, and now that there’s Kleenex Aloe Vera, we might just have to dabao some out when we leave the house.

I’ve also just found out recently that Kleenex is FSC certified – if you care about which companies use responsibly managed forests, you’ll be happy to know Kleenex does.

Details like these are small but significant if you care about running a proper household, and Naomi and I do.

No scratchy toilet tissues for me!
No scratchy toilet tissues for me!