Digital Signatures in Turkey Save 1,600 Trees

hand paper signature photo

Signing, the old-school way. Photo by qwrrty via Flickr

One of the small, but annoying, problems with expat life is dealing with the issue of signing documents related to work and logistics back in the U.S. With people's lives so electronically connected now, it has surprised me how many times I've had to put actual pen to actual paper and sign a contract, an invoice, or a request for press access.

Since the Turkish mail can be a bit, ahem, unreliable, this entails walking up the hill to the Internet cafe, printing out the document in question, signing it, and then either giving it back to the Internet guy to scan it so I can then send it in via email, or walking back down to the yarn and pantyhose store (no, I'm not kidding), where I can fax it off. I know there are better ways, but I haven't yet got around to figuring them out. On that count, it seems, the Turkish government is one step ahead of me.As of January 1, 2008, reports the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review, the Industry and Commerce Ministry adopted an electronic-signature application for warranties and service agreements, saving more than a thousand trees:

In 2008, as a result, 2.6 million signatures [and initials] were not scribbled on paper in 54,214 transactions, thus saving 1.9 million pages of A4 size paper... weigh[ing] 9.4 tons. This amount saved the felling of [approximately] 1,600 trees, which equals 8 square kilometers of forestland. It also prevents 3,382 tons of greenhouse gas from being released into the atmosphere.

This is a particularly awesome advance for Turkey, which, as you may have noticed from the above numbers, can be a bit bureaucracy-happy: An average of 35 pages per transaction, with more than one signature or initial per page. And that doesn't even include the ever-present rubber stamps.

Individuals have plenty of options these days for creating digital signatures, though I've had trouble finding a free one. RightSignature looks promising--their free account lets you upload and sign up to five Microsoft Word or PDF documents each month. I can hardly wait to do some more paperwork.

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