Environmental conservation is at the forefront of domestic and international discussion. As such, many people ask what they can do to reduce waste in their daily lives. We recycle, use energy-efficient bulbs, cut down on plastic, and do other things considered eco. In other words, there are many things we can change at home.
However, the workplace is equally important considering how much time many of us spend there. And while many companies have incorporated recycling and zero-waste policy, some businesses struggle to make their eco policy effective, especially in terms of paper consumption.
Despite advancements in technology and digitalization, many companies still use and waste an enormous amount of paper.
So, what can one do to help save our world by reducing paper consumption in their business? That’s the question we’ll answer below. Read on and find out more about 11 simple ways you can reduce paper use at the office.
1. Think Before You Print
When all you need to do to print is click an icon on your computer screen, it can be tempting to print anything and everything without giving it much thought. Instead, you should stop for a moment and consider whether you really need to print that memo or document.
Maybe you can send it around via email, online fax, or share reading materials with a co-worker during a meeting. If a piece of paper will get tossed in the bin a short time after it’s printed, you probably don’t need the information it contains to be in physical form, especially if you can’t reuse it later.
Pro Tip: If you do need to use the printer, think about whether you need to print the whole document or just part of it. Selective printing is an easy way to reduce paper production at the office.
2. Application = Conservation
So many business-related tasks that used to rely on paper usage and exchange can now be done with apps. For instance, Slack is a great tool for team-communication and file sharing. Evernote is awesome for organization, idea dissemination, and note-taking. Asana makes collaboration and project management easy, tidy, and electronic. Google docs is an effective way to collaborate on documents and spreadsheets without the need for printing and paper.
And there are SO many more. It’s time to find and adopt applications that can help your office save the paper as well as time and money. More importantly, though, incorporating such solutions is a huge step towards a paperless and green company. It will also significantly improve efficiency at your workplace.
3. Print on Both Sides
Don’t forget your printer has the option of double-sided printing. And sure, it might not be inappropriate for official documents. Still, it’s but certainly useful when it comes to the files you want to send internally.
As an environmentally conscious employer, take a moment to write down guidelines for two-sided printing. Specify which documents should be printed only on one side and which can utilize both sides. This eliminates confusion in employees and gives them an easy route to reducing paper waste.
It may not sound like a lot, but printing on two sides of the paper can significantly help in your paper-saving goals. Sure, it won’t eliminate paper sheets production entirely, but it will certainly help reduce it, and that’s one step closer to saving the environment.
4. Set up Direct Deposit
Checks are paper too! Why not give your employees the option to set up direct deposit? That would also save them a trip to the bank, saving time and gas – a bonus win for the environment. Also, embracing digital banking will significantly improve your business efficacy. Online transactions are much faster, safer, and easier to carry out. It’s a classic win-win situation that benefits both your company and our planet.
5. Reduce Label Usage
Many offices use printed labels with their address that they can stick onto the envelope to be mailed out. Between the labels themselves, and the paper they are printed on (that ends up in the trash), a lot of paper gets wasted.
The eco-friendlier solution is to print addresses directly on the envelopes. Stamps can be printed too. Try to implement this strategy anywhere you would ordinarily use labels. You’ll be surprised how many opportunities you find.
The best solution, of course, would be to eliminate traditional mail entirely and switch to emailing instead. Of course, it’s not always possible. Some documents (especially legal) have to be sent on paper. However, for any business-related things, you should always use email or other sources of internal communication.
6. SHRED & RECYCLE
Sometimes the best way to reduce waste is to… recycle the waste you’ve got.
Make it easy for employees to get into this important habit. Encourage the separation of paper and cardboard from other trash. Make recycling bins accessible and convenient.
Shredders can help, as undoubtedly some paper will be too sensitive to add directly into the recycling bin. A good idea is also to reuse pieces of paper if possible. Of course, you should do this only for internal business matters.
You may also consider buying recycled paper. In other words, there are plenty of ways you can help the environment without sacrificing your paper usage.
7. ARCHIVE ELECTRONICALLY
Archiving information is a necessary practice for many offices. But filing cabinets aren’t the only way to store important documents. Not only does paper archival waste paper and office space, but it’s also harder to search and sort.
Thankfully, all kinds of electronic options and tools exist. It’s time to research options that fit your company and office needs. Store your files on clouds, external hard drives, and other data storage solutions. Of course, if you decide to store your documents online, you have to make sure to invest in your cybersecurity and perform backups – a small price to pay for using less paper and saving trees in the process.
8. USE EMAIL
No surprise you’d find this one on the list. Whether you’re contacting employees, clients, or companies who serve you, use email whenever possible. It’s a fast, paper-free option that virtually everyone is familiar with and comfortable using. Most importantly, though, it’s much faster than traditional mail, and you can be sure your documents won’t get lost.
9. SWITCH TO ONLINE FAXING
Does your office fax? If so, you can likely save a lot of paper on both the sending and receiving ends. FaxBurner is an app-based and online faxing service that eliminates the need for a physical machine, ink, and paper. Faxes are archived in the cloud for easy retrieval. Copies of incoming and outgoing faxes are also sent to your email.
Aside from using online fax services, you can also use the special computer software Windows offer its users. Online faxing is faster, more efficient, and helps in saving paper. What’s more, it will save you money on fax machine repairs and maintenance, which is something that cannot be underestimated.
10. TAKE DIGITAL NOTES
It’s practically impossible to have a meeting without writing an agenda and taking notes. The first helps an employer run the meeting, whereas the latter allows writing a clear and structured meeting summary. The only problem is, handing a piece(s) of paper to all attendants is simply wasteful. Instead, try to do everything digitally.
An agenda can be sent using email, and someone can take notes using Google Docs or another similar program. You might even consider recording your meetings and then ask someone to make a digital transcript. That way, you won’t use any paper whatsoever, and you’ll still get everything done properly.
11. Buy Recycled Paper
We’ve already mentioned that you can buy paper that’s been recycled. It’s available in all levels of thickness, and it won’t change the printing performance nor quality. Aside from recycled paper, you can also consider buying paper made from organic cotton, hemp, or pre-recycled paper. Doing that is a fantastic way to help the environment while keeping your paper needs intact.
SUMMING UP WAYS TO SAVE PAPER AT THE OFFICE
Conserving paper in the office is a must for all eco-conscious employers. Many employees relish the opportunity as well. Besides, it doesn’t only save trees and other resources, but it also saves money as well, which is something no entrepreneur can underestimate.
In some cases, technology is the answer. For instance, deciding to use email or digital communicators to send memos and other company-related information will save paper and time. Storing your documents and data on clouds or hard drives will save office space and reduce paperwork. Online faxing will save money on fax machine maintenance and repairs. The list goes on.
In others, it’s a choice to adopt a new habit or process that reduces paper waste, like using scrap paper for note-taking or reusing paper sheets.
Either way, there are countless ways to pitch in and play your part to help stop climate change and save the environment.
What did we miss? How do you save paper at the office?