Manilla, a Paperless 2013 sponsor that aimed to save people from the horrors of printed and mailed bills, is throwing in the towel, according to TechCrunch.
Unable, in the words of its own ads, to get its "s**t toghether," the three-year-old Hearst unit will start winding down on June 30 and shut down completely on Sept. 30. (The 2013 article Killah in Manilla: Hearst's Green Reputation Tarnished by Subsidiary examined the company's questionable environmental claims.)
Without providing any data or analysis, the anti-paper campaign claimed that businesses become more environmentally friendly when they switch to cloud computing and other paperless processes.
The campaign used the hashtag "Paperless 2013" in social media, but environmentalists and print advocates staged a "hashtag takeover" to counter the campaign's self-serving and misleading claims.
Manilla's CEO said its sponsorship was “truly representative of Manilla’s overall mission ... to help improve the environment by reducing the overall use of paper.” But like the campaign, Manilla never documented how its services helped the environment -- or revealed anything about its own environmental practices.
The start-up's claims were an odd departure from those of its parent company, which is one of the world's largest buyers of publication papers and which has provided extensive reporting of its aggressive and carefully documented environmental efforts.
I'll state my position again: There are legitimate reasons to convert some paper-based functions to digital media. But don't make assertions about "going green" by going paperless without providing evidence, because digital media have a significant environmental footprint.