Ten days after deciding to cut my paper use, I’ve made real progress towards being a paperless journalist. I’ve already packed a filing cabinet drawer worth of paper into plastic bags ready for the recycling collection. That’s about 20 kilograms in total and around 5 percent of the non-book or magazine paper floating around my home.

I’ve switched to electronic billing for my mobile phone account and electricity. Switching my Telecom account to paperless transactions has proved trickier – although I expect to make the move soon.

I’m running up against two problems:

I’m a journalist and I keep most of my notes in reporter-style notebooks or larger A4-sized notebooks. For legal reasons I need to keep these safe long after publication.

My handwriting is atrocious and anyway, scanning this material doesn’t appear practical.

I’d appreciate any advice on how long I should keep these notebooks. The statute of limitations for defamation cases is generally only two or three years in many countries but I haven’t been able to find out the term in New Zealand law.

There’s a similar legal problem with old business paperwork. I’ve a sizable collection of paper from when I ran a business in Australia – I’m supposed to keep this for seven years, which means I’ve about 18 months to go before junking it. There’s too much to scan and, with such a short amount of time to worry about, it doesn’t seem worth the effort.

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