Monday, April 30, 2007

Reducing and Reusing Paper at Work

We run a tight environmental ship here, possibly because I'm a bit of a what the neighbors call an "eco-freak." I'm married to someone who refuses to buy anything made in China, so we buy nothing new at all. And we live and work in 600 square feet. I'll stop there because that's enough for people to start throwing things at my glass house (I will admit that we installed heat and air conditioning). In any case, I've written a few tips for reducing and reducing paper. (And Boy in the Bands has more tips for greening your office, Ms. Kitty has tips for greening your lifestyle, and Mom to the Left has other green lifestyle tips.)

Here are some printing facts:

Average cost of a wasted page $0.06
Average employee prints 6 wasted pages per day, that's 1,410 wasted pages per year!
The average U.S. office worker prints 10,000 pages per year

Yes, that was 10,000 pages per year. Good Lord. So here are my tips.

Don't Print at All This is my primary strategy. I only print information that I absolutely need to see in print. This means printed information is either something I have to copyedit or writing guidelines, which I like to keep by my side. The upside to this is I can turn off the printer and fax machine and save some energy.
Duplex Duplexing does require some minor knowledge of electronics. I write a community newsletter for the water company that I print on the front and back. It requires a bare minimum amount of knowledge about how the printer works to know how to feed in the paper correctly (face down, in this case). But you can duplex print at work on the copy machine. That would use half the amount of paper.
Use Recycled Paper I often print on paper that people send me that often has printing on only one side. As an editor, this is actually a substantial amount of paper. I also purchase recycled paper from Staples, when I buy paper.
Use Scratch Paper Periodically I have something to solve that involves a lot of math. I use all the weird folded or otherwise unusable paper and envelopes for that sort of work.

Other ideas for reducing and reusing paper?

Read more Tips for Greening Your Work and Making Your Office a Greener Place: A Primer. You might also like the Greening Guides to revising all sorts of practices.