Slowing Down the Paper Chase

The typical office disposes of 350 pounds of wastepaper per employee per year, according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).


Going a little greener could benefit the environment and your business. For instance, an environmentally friendly program can send the message to shareholders and clients that the firm is interested in keeping costs low and being a good corporate citizen. The NRDC suggests implementing a “smart paper” policy to help reduce use, increase recycling, and improve the kind of paper purchased.


Here are some tips that can help you use paper smarter:


  Print less. Don’t print e-mails unless absolutely necessary, or print or order more copies of something than you need. You can also set printers and copiers to default to double-sided printing and adjust the house style on word processing programs to use a slightly smaller font and set margins to maximize print area.


  Recycle more. Distribute recycling bins to every workstation and make sure the cleaning crew knows what to do with them. Post signs in centralized locations to encourage reuse and recycling and to clarify what can and cannot be recycled.


  Reuse. Save and collect 8.5-by-11-inch paper that’s been printed on one side, restack it neatly, designate a paper drawer on each printer (or as many printers as practical) for this paper, and use it to print drafts. Re-purpose old boxes and envelopes.


  Buy better. As printers and copiers need to be replaced, reducethe number of printers you purchase to save money, energy and office space. Choose units that can print on both sides of a sheet of paper. Also, buy paper with the highest percentage of postconsumer recycled content available, never settling for less than 30% for uncoated paper or 10% for coated stock. And, when ordering office supplies, choose products with the least amount of packaging.


  Cut back on incoming mail waste. Survey employees and coworkers to see who subscribes to what publications, then trimduplicates and work out a sharing system. You also can reduce the unwanted mail your company receives: The National Waste Prevention Coalition provides a postcard to send to mailers to have your name removed from lists at


  Calculate your progress. Tally up paper savings by using an online paper calculator, such as the one offered at the Environmental Defense Fund (, which allows you to determine baseline use and track savings as you make improvements or compare the environmental effects of different kinds of paper.


Source: Natural Resources Defense Council,



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