How to Use Less Paper at the Office

6 easy steps to save paper at your workplace

Reducing the amount of paper used in your office will not only make your office a little greener, it could potentially reduce expenditures. The Environmental Protection Agency says 4 million tons of copy paper are used annually, with office workers generating approximately 2 pounds each per day. According to the EPA, one office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper per year. The cost of the paper use is significant to both the environment and the office budget. How, then, can companies use less paper?

Step 1: Create a policy

Change begins with office policy. If you do not have a policy concerning paper use, it may be time to consider one. A “double-sided” policy, for instance, would call on all employees to use both sides of the paper when printing any documents.

Step 2: Upgrade and service copy machines

Make certain that printers can meet the demand to print on both sides of paper and are well serviced. Keeping the copier serviced will help avoid toner problems and paper jams and eliminate “bad” copies that may get thrown out (or hopefully recycled) if unreadable. This may mean a one-time investment in upgrading the equipment, but in the long run it could amount to significant savings. Once installed, computer defaults can be set to always print on both sides of a piece of paper.

Step 3: Plan ahead

Thinking ahead before hitting the start button on a copy machine is an important step. Encourage employees to copy only what they actually need. If the copying involves a mass mailing, it is still important to know the approximate number of copies you will need. Also ask them to think before choosing "print" on their computer.

Step 4: Reuse and recycle

Have a tray or bin available for employees to discard extra paper or one-sided documents. These can be reused in the copier or fax machines or be cut up for scratch paper. Scratch paper can easily replace the “while you were out” phone message pads.

Recycle unusable paper, and buy recycled paper products. The EPA notes that by switching to just 50 percent recycled paper, an annual order of 100 tons of paper can save 173 tons of wood; 50,000 pounds of solid waste; and 100,000 pounds of greenhouse gases.

Step 6: Electronic technology

Living in the age of the computer makes using less paper in the office easier. Utilizing interoffice email whenever possible will reduce a significant amount of paper. You can discourage making paper “hard copies” by reminding employees they can always save their documents on the hard drive of their computer or to a computer disc. Making reports and important documents available online will eliminate the need for making multiple copies for distribution to staff.

These steps will be not only reduce the amount of paper used in the office, but over time can reduce overall office costs.

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