How much paper do you use at the office? Are you recycling your paper?
Paper consumption is one of the leading topics during Earth Day because how we use paper affects our planet, specifically our trees and our waste management.
The average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. That’s 4 million tons of copy paper used annually. In 2012, paper and cardboard made up 27% of municipal waste.
After our Spring 2015 Waste Audit, we noticed that paper waste was one of our challenges as well; in our offices, our warehouse, and our manufacturing facility. Using less paper is one of our key commitments here at Envirotech. We continue to look for new ways to help reduce the amount of paper we use and manage our paper waste better. There are always challenges, but we are dedicated to making improvements towards a greener business, and a greener planet.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is our mantra at Envirotech when it comes to selling office furniture. When it comes to how we manage our waste, including paper, it is no different. #GoingGreen
8 Tips on Going Green with Paper
1. Double-Sided Print Policy
Make a company-wide policy to use both sides of the paper when printing. You will use 50% less paper! Not only that, paper storage will require half the space. To make it easy to remember, automate this task. Set up each computer, or company-wide network, to default to two-sided printing. This takes a bit of time to set up, but once it is done, your team won’t have to think about it again, and you can immediately start reducing your paper consumption. This helps save the environment, and it saves on the cost of paper.
2. Use Recycled Paper
Using 100% recycled paper helps reduce the amount of trees used to produce the paper. Another eco-friendly choice is to choose sustainably sourced paper. The paper that is harvested from certified managed forests, like the Forest Stewardship Council logo indicates, sourced and manufactured locally. Some manufacturers make a quality recycled paper that is free of bleach and manufactured without the use of any acids; making it an environmentally friendly choice.
Choose an alternative! Choose paper that comes from something other than trees! TreeZero TreeFrog paper is 100% Tree-free! It is made from sugar cane. www.rawoffice.com
3. Recycling Bins | Front and Centre
Put recycling bins in the areas where most paper, and paper products, are disposed of, makes it easier for people to start recycling. Some key places to consider would be near printers, under desks, in the lunch room, and in the shipping area. Always make sure bins are clearly labeled and employees know what products are allowable for recycling in your area. Remember to make it as easy to collect the recycling for disposal, as it is to gather the paper. If it is too difficult, it will be hard to maintain the program. Make it a team effort! For example, you can have every employee empty the bin under their desk into a central paper recycling bin for one pickup location.
4. Go Digital
With the advancement of technology, there are more opportunities than ever before to reduce the amount of paper used in the workplace. It is now typical for businesses to have their shipping tracked online, internal sales documents stored on a digital server rather than printed and stored on a bookshelf, and to use online tools for other administrative tasks. It is also the trend for businesses to move towards more digital marketing than traditional paper methods because people are spending more time online. Making the change from a paper-based system does have some challenges. There is the initial cost to going digital, but there are not only benefits to the environment by helping reduce the amount of paper used, but it also increases productivity and gives your team the tools it needs to stay competitive in a technologically savvy world.
5. Make Note Pads
We wrote about this in a previous post but thought it is worth mentioning again since it is so easy to do. Making an eco-friendly scribble pads is a creative way to reuse paper that only has printing on one side. Cut up these sheets in quarters and use a heavy duty paperclip* to fasten them together with the blank side up. Voila! You now have a scribble pad for taking notes during your next brainstorming session or when you are on the phone.
*Using a paper clip rather than a staple makes it easier to pull your notepad apart and recycle the used paper. Staples are metal and can’t be recycled with paper products.
6. Start a Green Team
A Green Team is a group of employees with representation from across the various departments who are interested in helping the business become more environmentally friendly. Often someone from the C-Suite is part of the team to offer guidance and support. The Green Team meets regularly to learn and share sustainability best practices. They use these best practices, and their creativity, to come up with strategies on how to create a more environmentally friendly workplace. After that, they work with the leadership team, and co-workers to put the plan into action.
The benefit of a Green Team is that sustainability initiatives will be part of a bigger plan, and there will be people who care if it does, or doesn’t succeed. These are motivated people who will rally the team and encourage their fellow workers to engage and adopt Greener habits. It is the Green Team that will take the sustainability goals of the organization and propel it forward. Having more than one person on the team, rather than a single sustainability champion, not only brings a variety of ideas to the table, but they can encourage one another when challenges come along.
7. Packing Material
Shred it and use it to pack it. You might not want to do this with highly sensitive documents, but for everything else, why not? Some materials like Tissue Paper can’t be recycled as well, so reuse whenever possible to help reduce waste.
8. Give Back – Plant a Tree!
The average American uses about the equivalent of one 100-foot Douglas Spruce Tree in paper and wood products per year.
- Donate – Over the past 50 years, almost half of the Earth’s forests have been lost due mostly from humans taking these materials to make new products . At Envirotech, we support TreeCanada.ca by helping them plant trees to replenish our Earth’s forests. Read More>
- Volunteer – Organize a day for your team to plant trees! It offers team building, awareness, and a direct way to help replenish our earth’s trees. To learn more about tree planting and environmental programs in the Toronto Area, here are a few groups to reach out to Partners in Project Green , One Million Trees Mississauga, Credit Valley Conservation Area, Forests Ontario.
-  Average U.S. Office Worker Uses 10,000 Sheets of Paper Per Year – www.mashable.com
-  Importance of Forests – www.wwf.panda.org