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How to make Your Office as Paperless as Possible

March 23, 2011

Careless use and disposal of office paper and office supplies is rapidly clogging landfills, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, depleting natural resources, contributing to air and water pollution, and wasting energy.

Reducing and recycling waste paper and paper products is one of the simplest ways of reducing pressure on the resources. Here are 6 easy to implement tips to get you started on your sustainability journey:

  1. Reduction is the main aim of the game. If you don't use it, you don't have to buy it or recycle it, saving your company money and landfill space. Have a brain storming session or run a competition on reduction or replacement strategies to get staff involved and aware of all the stationery products they use.
  2. Review documents online. Email colleges and review on screens. When printing is necessary, set margins as wide as possible and use double sided settings.
  3. Use discarded printed paper for in house staff note pads. Use the backing, cut it in half and clip together. These are a staple in any green office, and are extremely handy and money-saving. Explain to staff about waste paper recycling and get your them to deposit bad prints, extra copies or other waste documents and soon there will be enough recycle paper to generate several one-sided pads that can be cut to convenient size and clipped together.
  4. Confidential documents that cannot be used for one-side pads can be easily converted into shredded paper. Look for a paper shredding service in your area that recycles. Alternatively, you could do the shredding yourself and have one of the paper recycling companies in your area pick up your load on a regular basis.
  5. Billing - opt to receive your bills online where possible and print only the necessary pages. We have all had a telephone bill that is 40 pages long, when only the first few pages are necessary for taxation purposes. Store the PDF copy online and back it up off site in a secure place if you think you may need the other information in months to come.
  6. Send clients invoices online. The cost saving in postage alone is worth implementing this change! Back up files and store off site for extra security.

Get staff excited and involved in the process. They will do a much better job if they feel they have ownership in the process and can see measurable results. Think outside the box, why not place small plants representing how many tress your company has saved by being more sustainable in high traffic areas that staff, suppliers and clients can see, saving your company money, promoting your company's sustainability practices and increasing staff morale.

What other paper related sustainability initiatives has your office successfully enacted?

By Holly McCarthy, EcoBizCheck

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