Little Bit of Paper: Reduce What You Use
Paper is 70% of the material that comes into our material recycling facility. We use a ton of paper – if you stack up the paper used by an average office worker in a year, the stack would be over 4 feet tall! Not only is this a huge use of natural resources, but it is also a huge cost. The cost of an average ream of paper is minimal in comparison to the total cost of that paper when you factor in printing on it, storing it, mailing it, and disposing it. The average cost of a ream of paper with all these factors, rises to $62. How much money and resources could you save if you reduce your paper use? In the Department of Parks and Land Use at Waukesha County, the answer is over $17,000 in 2 years.
Some strategies that you can easily implement to your daily routine include:
- Think before you print. Can you store it electronically? A well organized electronic filing system allows you to store e-mails, documents, pictures, and other data in an easily searchable environment.
- Think before you print multiple copies. In our office we have to print lots of agendas. Sometimes we know how many people will be coming to the meeting, sometimes not. Create standards for average attendance and don’t print more than you think you will need. Alternatively, consider making agendas available online or via e-mail before the meeting and have people bring their own copy. This also allows attendees to be better prepared for the meeting.
- Think before you print a copy for everyone and their brother. Route memos through the office. Have a central filing cabinet for documents used by multiple people in the office. One example of a file I keep in the central filing cabinet is background information on Houseshold Hazardous Waste and another on composting.
- Think before you print a ‘final copy’. Use document editing software to review comments via your network. Print draft copies or copies that will not be seen by clients or the public on scratch paper. Default your printer to a tray filled with this type of scratch paper.
- Network. Make sure your computer is networked to others. If you don’t have a network, consider online applications like Google documents to make sure that everyone has access to documents. Google Documents saved me a lot of printing while I was planning my wedding. I was able to keep everyone up-to-date with schedules, to-do lists, and more.
- Get your name off of junk mail lists. Whether it be personally or professionally, there are a lot of sites that can help you get your name off of mailing lists. A few to visit include Catalogue Choice, Yellow Pages, and for more information Waukesha County’s Recycling site.
These are just a few ideas… What are your favorite ways to reduce paper?