How to Reduce Paper Waste

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The desire to reduce paper waste isn’t just about being environmentally conscious. It’s also about cutting expenses. If the ongoing cost of having to constantly restock your printer paper supply is a concern, consider some of the following methods you can use to reduce paper waste – saving money and trees at the same time.

Eco-Friendly Printers and Paper Saving Practices

The idea of eco-friendly printing seems, on the surface, to be a contradiction. Using paper to print physical copies of documents, whether a sheet at a time or in bulk, is by definition an expense of resources. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to reduce paper waste in the process. Purchasing an Energy Star compliant printer that economizes power, in addition to refilling ink cartridges instead of just throwing them away and replacing them with new ones, can save money — but neither of these practices actually saves paper.

There are, however, a number of methods that can cumulatively save on the amount of paper that’s used in an office or home environment. Duplexing is the practice of printing on both sides of a sheet, effectively cutting paper use in half. Although this is a common feature, not all printers perform duplexing in the same manner. Some printers can be set to automatic double-sided print mode. Others require you to manually re-feed sheets of paper into the printer to print on both sides. Look carefully at a printer’s duplexing function to ensure you don’t find yourself saving paper at the cost of additional time and effort.

Adjusting margin settings on documents can also have a significant impact on the number of sheets required for a print job, as can the act of creating documents with smaller fonts and condensed layouts like single spacing over the more space-consuming practice of double spacing lines.

Using recycled printer paper is another method by which you can affect a positive (or less injurious) environmental impact. Look for FSC-certified printer paper, which bears the stamp of approval from the Forest Stewardship Council.

Adopting eco-friendly printing practices doesn’t have to be a wholly altruistic act. It’s a decision that many companies and home power-users are making as a means of minimizing the economic impact that comes from having to constantly re-purchase paper supplies.

Go Paperless

For many businesses, the proposition of shifting internal methodologies to embrace a fully paperless office is an intimidating one wrought with roadblocks at every turn. The truly paperless office is still years away, but it is within sight, made all the more feasible by technologies like DocuSign that enable people to electronically sign documents, and by interconnected office environments that allow workers to access documents on their mobile devices instead of printing out copies to take with them. The rise in use of tablets and other mobile devices in the office environment is also helping pave the way. According to statistics, paper use in office environments is dropping 1 to 2 percent per year, and in 2016 usage dropped to 10 points below the amount of office paper consumed in 2007.

This is owed in large part to emerging technologies, coupled with conscious efforts to cut back. But companies don’t have to wait to catch up with those technologies to start reducing paper waste today. There are certain practices that can turn a fully paper-driven office into a partially paperless environment – and halfway is better than nothing, especially when it comes to saving money on daily paper supplies.

To begin with, companies should consider performing a thorough audit of all of the business-driven activities that require the use of paper. This will help identify where the greatest waste is taking place and can make it easier to seek out possible solutions. Among the most common are imposing limitations on what types of documents can be printed. Requiring user IDs to access centrally located printers can identify individuals who may be abusing print privileges for non-work-related documents. It can also act as a preventive deterrent. Companies should also foster a cooperative culture that encourages employees to use printers conservatively – frequently reminding employees to think twice before printing anything.

Last but not least, adopting the use of apps that work with mobile devices and tablets and leveraging mobile cloud collaboration tools like Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365 can vastly decrease the need for paper.

The reduction of paper waste requires a combination of commitment, awareness and adoption of effective methodologies. By applying some of these suggestions, you could chop away at a significant chunk of operational expenses – all the while saving a few trees in the process.

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