GREEN LIVING COLUMN PENCINTA ALAM OCTOBER 2009
REDUCING PAPER WASTAGE IN THE OFFICE
By Wong Ee Lynn
FACTS ABOUT PAPER USE AND WASTAGE:
1. The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
2. Over 40% of wood pulp produced in the world goes towards the production of paper.
3. The costs of using paper (i.e. printing, copying, faxing) can run 13-31 times the cost of purchasing the paper in the first place!
4. It takes more than 1 ½ cups of water to produce 1 sheet of paper (Picture a typical soft drink can).
5. Reducing paper use reduces greenhouse gases. 40 reams of paper is equivalent to 1.5 acres of pine forest absorbing carbon dioxide for one year!
6. Even with recycling efforts, paper makes up approximately 25% of the waste we throw away. We are still throwing away a lot of resources!
WAYS TO REDUCE PAPER WASTAGE:
1. Always make double-sided copies.
2. Set computer defaults to print double-sided.
3. Reuse paper printed only on one side in the fax machine, for draft copies and for internal documents.
4. Preview documents before printing. Use the print preview to spot formatting errors and blank pages. Proofread first and use the grammar & spellcheck to avoid errors that will cause documents to be reprinted.
5. Save emails, minutes and other documents onto hard disk. Delete margins, duplicates, contact details, logos, footers and anything unnecessary, and resize and realign the font and paragraphs to take up the least space possible. It makes for easier reading and if the need to print it arises, less paper will be used.
6. Promote a "think before you copy" attitude. Consider sharing some documents with co-workers. Print only the number of copies needed for the meeting, don't make extras.
7. Print or photocopy only the pages you need, and only the number of copies you need. There is no need to make extra copies for standby. If it is in the disk, it can be reprinted as and only when needed.
8. Save a copy of important documents into your hard disk or e-mail folders. Create folders to keep everything organised and retrievable. Fix a date every month to review the folders and delete documents you no longer need.
9. Saving documents on soft copy may even make your life easier! You can just copy and paste from documents, than refer to the printed copy and type everything from scratch again.
10. However: Don’t be a pack rat and save everything to disk, especially when the information is readily available elsewhere! Keep your inbox and hard disk tidy and organised. This will save memory/disk space and prevent the need to purchase additional disk storage or thumb drives.
11. Examine the reports and documents you print regularly to see if people still need them. Many times, they are created for someone who has left or who does not need it anymore.
12. Remove printers from desks and move them to a central location where one printer will suffice for many people. This will reduce wasteful printing as people will decide it is too much hassle to print unnecessary and personal items.
13. Have an inter-departmental competition to see which dept uses the least paper. Give each Dept a fixed number of reams of paper a week, and mark the packaging, e.g. with Dept X #1, #2 and so forth for each ream. At the end of each week, reward the dept that has the most unused reams of paper remaining. Of course, you will need to take into account the fact that some office departments, say, the Legal Dept, will need to use more paper than the others.
14. Impose a fine on those found to be wasting paper, e.g. crumpling up once-used paper and tossing it into their wastepaper basket when they should be putting it back into the printer tray for drafts. Even crumpled paper can be reused as memo pads.
15. Give members/subscribers/customers/clients the option of going paperless and of receiving newsletters, correspondence, catalogues and other documents via email. Of course, this is not possible where there are legal issues, e.g. acceptance of contract, admission of liability etc, so in those instances, resize and reformat before printing and print on both sides if you can. If a hard copy is going to be sent to you, then don’t print out the email.
16. Unplug the fax machine and request that the sending party email instead. That way, you have more control over whether something should be printed, and you can resize and reformat it before printing. This will also eliminate junk mail by fax. At least try to unplug the fax machine after official office hours.
17. Keep copiers and printers in good repair and make it policy to only buy copiers and printers that make reliable double-sided copies. Let your copier maintenance person know when a copier is performing poorly (toner is low, jams frequently, etc.). Regular copier maintenance is important, especially if the toner is low. Copiers are often used until all the toner is gone and that wears down machines. A copier that works well is less likely to jam and this helps save paper.
(Topic proposed by Ling Mee Hong)