It’s a given that there’s been major leaps in technology over the past few decades. While computers have been around for my entire lifetime, it wasn’t until I was an adult that technology started coming into every aspect of our lives. I remember the excitement I had about technology when our local grocery store converted from big mechanical cash registers to relatively compact (for the time) electronic cash registers. These didn’t have scanning or anything, everything was categorized as it had been on the mechanical predecessors (Grocery, Produce, Meat, etc), but they could handle fractions, compute sales tax, weigh produce and had enough memory to store the price of a few items in their memory. Management could pull reports. And these little electronic marvels printed receipts that many folks could understand. There were no frills, a message, a list of the items and the total, amount tendered and change due. Thank you and please call again.

Here’s a sample receipt from my senior year in high school.

This receipt from Zayre lists five items, tax due and the aforementioned important points that should be listed on a receipt. Seasons Greetings from Zayre. Easy peasy. The receipt is maybe two inches long, tops. The customer can match the numbers to the numbers on the item. There’s no paper waste. Fun fact, when I was writing code for a temp job at a department store, we made it a challenge to use a little receipt paper as possible, printing the “header” of the next sale as the paper from the current sale was being ejected. We wanted to save paper and save the store money.

Now, here’s a photo grabbed from some random guy on the Internet. It captures the receipt that was spewed out of a modern CVS cash register when he purchased a pack of gum.

Why on earth does a receipt need to be nearly two feet long for the purchase of one item? Who uses all these coupons? How many times do one need to see the store logo? Why do retail establishments feel they need to hammer me over the head with countless marketing messages from one purchase? Why the waste? What happened to be eco-safe and emissions free?

Just because technology allows us to spew yards of paper at a rapid pace out of computerized cash register doesn’t mean that we have to do it. Who is this benefitting? The only positive result from this ridiculousness is the benefit to the paper company. How much of this paper is being wasted? How many trees are being cut to print out six CVS coupons for a pack of gum.

This is not the direction I thought we’d be going in the 21st century. I really believe that technology is ahead of the general IQ of the population. We are capable of doing incredible things but we are literally wasting our bandwidth on stupid stuff.

I know I sound like I’m chasing kids off my lawn but we really need to keep our use of technology reasonable and in perspective. Stop wasting paper.