The 3 E's of Office Paper Reduction
Are you a paper pusher? The typical workplace is hooked on the stuff, with some shocking statistics.
- The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
- The United States alone, which has less than 5% of the world's population, consumes 30% of the world's paper.
- Over 40% of wood pulp goes toward the production of paper.
- Printing and writing paper equals about one-half of U.S. paper production.
- The costs of using paper in the office can run 13 to 31 times the cost of purchasing the paper in the first place!
Economical: Saving paper saves money
You're probably thinking, "What's the big deal? My office doesn't spend much on paper." But what most people don't realize is that the cost of buying paper is just the tip of the paper iceberg. For each sheet of paper used, a company incurs not only purchasing costs, but also storage, copying, printing, postage, disposal, and recycling—and it adds up. A recent Minnesota study estimates that associated paper costs could be as much as 31 times the purchasing costs (not including labor). So, that ream of paper that you paid $5 for really could cost up to $155!
- Citigroup, a large financial services company, determined that if each employee used double-sided copying to conserve just one sheet of paper each week, the firm would save $700,000 each year.
- Bank of America cut its paper consumption by 25% in two years by increasing the use of on-line forms and reports, e-mail, double-sided copying, and lighter-weight paper.
Efficient: Saving paper increases efficiency
Paperwork! It brings to mind filling out unnecessarily complicated forms. Electronic forms can now make that job easier and more efficient. Businesses that have converted to electronic forms and filing systems have found that it takes less time to both find and process information. This doesn't mean that electronic forms should replace all paper. In some instances, paper will be the best tool, but most businesses find that reducing their paper use increases their efficiency. Whenever we have fewer sheets of paper in our homes and offices, we spend less time looking for those that are misplaced or lost.
Tips for Reducing Office Paper Waste
Use both sides
Use the front and back of a piece of paper and cut your paper use and costs in half.
- Set computer defaults to print double-sided.
- Make double-sided copies when possible.
- Give it a second chance: Use paper printed on only one side in your fax machine, for draft copies or internal documents, or as scratch paper
Think before you Print or Copy
Sometimes it is necessary for documents to be printed. Print responsibly.
- Preview documents before printing. Use the print preview to spot formatting errors and blank pages before you print. Proofread first, and use the spell/grammar tool to help avoid errors that can cause documents to be reprinted.
- Print only the pages you need. If only a few pages of the document are needed, print only those pages instead of the whole report. Most software programs provide this option under the print function.
- Promote a "think before you copy" attitude. Consider sharing some documents with co-workers. Print only the number of Print only the number of copies needed for the meeting, don't make extras.
- Route memos and newsletters that employees should see, but do not need to keep. That way newsletters and other documents can be shared rather than copied.
- Use revision features in word processing software. You can edit documents on screen instead of printing out drafts and making hand-written comments.
- Send information electronically. Use e-mails instead of fax or mailed letters when possible. It's faster.
- Fit more words onto each page (e.g., smaller font, narrower margins). Simply changing the default margins from 1.25" to 1" can reduce the amount of paper you use by up to 8%. Use a space-efficient font like Times New Roman.
- Create an electronic filing system for quick, easy retrieval.