It wasn't specifically intentional, but my recent birthday was almost paper free.
Just over a decade ago I decluttered the musical part of my life. That was when I made the decision to rid myself of CDs (well, the visible ones) and go "MP3". Embrace the digital revolution, as it were.
They were fairly early days then for such a move - a collection of nearly 1000 CDs is pushing 100Gb of storage. iPods of the day were, well barely emerging to be honest - 1Gb first generation MP3 players were flavour of the day. Hard disks were not much better - a 100Gb disk was pretty expensive; I think I paid about £250 for a 160Gb disk.
Nonetheless, I threw myself into it and a first generation Squeezebox gave me wireless network access to all my music. Finally, I had flexibility to listen to my music anywhere and a wallful of free space in the living room. It re-released the joy in all the music I was never getting round to listen to.
A decade on and the wheel comes full circle.
This time it's the books and the bookcase.
It's full of books, full of love, full of joy, but so much of it is unread. This, for me, is the perfect time to embrace the Amazon Kindle. To squeeze a few hundred books from my private collection onto a paperback sized device and keep going for years to come until I reach about 3000.
Sure, it's not as splendid to look at, not as charming to flick through with your head tilted sideways over dinner. But it does mean there is a chance I'll do a bit more reading in those precious seconds roaming the country. I might, for example, use the text-to-speech option to listen to my books in the car.
So, it was for my 40th birthday that I put out the broadcast that Amazon vouchers were the thing to get me. I wouldn't be impresssed with anything tangible or physical. And the response was surprisingly beautiful - and handful of amazon vouchers in my email right there on the morning of my birthday. Even one from my Grandma, who has never been near a computer or the interbookfacewebthingy. (Thanks Mum). I was able to go straight ahead and order my Kindle there and then. Not a jot of paper changed hands.
I'd like to think it was a lower carbon footprint birthday, though I can't be totally sure (Amazon might have made the Kindle itself in outer Galactica and shipped it via their hub in Timbuktu). I'm sure it WILL be over the lifetime of the Kindle though - fewer trees will certainly go to the great big Gutenberg in the sky. Though this time round I'm unlikely to stash my bookshelves in the loft - they'll just become a fossil record where they stand.
I wonder what will go digital in another 10 years time?