Cut Allergies: Go Digital

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Librarians, those literary addicts of cellulose decay, can attest to the dangers of having lots of paper laying around. It’s such a serious concern that librarians should wear air purifying face masks and elbow length gloves when they are working with shelves full of books. Ever seen a librarian looking like a member of the E.T. rescue crew? Maybe not, but what goes on after hours at libraries remains a mystery. Back to the big picture here, which is the need to reduce allergies as a content writer. While you may have stacks and stacks, upon stacks of stacks, of paper products, including unfinished manuscripts, copies of resumes, and an ever-growing pile of clips, it may just be killing you.

Paper Nests for Microscopic Critters

The reason why paper, an organic substance, causes so much grief has to do with mold spores and dust mites. Mold spores breed like rabbits on stacks of newspaper, old books, magazines and office documents, and 5 percent of Americans are allergic to the stuff, as noted by WebMD. Additionally, mold is most common during warm weather, aka the summer months.

Dust mites, affecting 20 million Americans who suffer allergic reactions because of these little buggers, are also prevalent in paper products. Just like mold spores, dust mites get bit by the love bug when it’s hot outside. Dust mite allergies skyrocket in July and August, according to WebMD. Between the two, it’s little wonder that writers can work during the summer at all when surrounded by mountains of newsprint and loose leaf.

Relief and Remedy

“Get rid of all of your papers and books” is the last thing you would have expected to hear from a writer 50, or even 10, years ago. Yet today this remedy for itchy eyes, irritated skin, and a runny nose is quite feasible. eBooks and eReaders have freed us up from the need to have in-house libraries—even though they will always hold a special place in the hearts of many, including myself. We save and share documents via computers and clouds. Email has replaced the requirement of stationary and old fashioned letter writing. For individuals interested in creating an allergy-free zone in the place where they spend 90 percent of their time—their homes—, it’s completely possible in the 21st century to go paperless.

Research for Resources

When I started working as a freelance writer, I wanted to have every possible resource and reference for working as a professional writer. So, I subscribed to several writers’ journals and professional magazines including:

  • Harper’s Magazine
  • Writer’s Digest
  • Poets and Writers Magazine
  • The Writer

That was five years ago, and I still have magazine folders full of these periodicals, just in case I need inspiration, writer contest contacts, or article references. What a disaster this has been for my allergies, not to mention for my hoarder tendencies.

Today, most magazine and journal subscriptions are available in eReader format. However, in most cases you are still required to receive the paper version, which is a bummer but a step in the right direction. One option for this situation is to donate your paper copy of magazines to your local public, school, or college libraries. Librarians love to offer magazines to patrons, but the costs are typically prohibitive, so free is the perfect price point. Plus, what better subject to offer to patrons than journals and how-to guides for writers? The same concept applies to newspapers, especially those that come daily, i.e. The Wall Street Journal, which is one of the bulkiest newspapers to which I have subscribed.

Save, Store, and Send Online

I am writing this article in Microsoft Word, where I will save it in OneDrive or DropBox, both cloud based storage options. I will send it to my editor via the Web, and once it’s published, I will share it via Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and my personal website. Never will I need to have a paper copy, and you don’t either when it comes to writing content on the Web. If you have that notion that you need to have your clips printed out and stored for documentation and future writing opportunities, ignore that old fashioned ideal. You will save a forest full of trees, as well as your health in terms of allergens, by cutting out printed documents.

Miranda B, a library director and freelance writer, has dealt with allergies since birth and owns it when it comes to keeping a digitalized desktop.


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