If your company has a paper recycling system, recycle your discarded paper.
More than half of all paper in the United States is not recycled - about 35 million tons per year. Most employees are simply not thinking when they toss paper into the trashcan. A good amount of this paper might be recyclable – not disposable – as a wide range of paper materials can now be recycled.
For example, all the following papers can be recycled with the proper facilities: Computer, copier, printer paper, all white and colored papers, fax paper, adding machine tapes, tab and time cards, accounting ledgers, posters and bulletins, NCR carbonless forms, Post-It notes, magazines, mail order catalogs, newspapers, all types of envelopes including ones with windows, labels, coated and colored, all mail pamphlets and brochures, unwaxed cardboard, and manila or colored folders, and even the slip-off sleeves on paper coffee cups.
Tapping into this "urban forest" of discarded paper can greatly diminish Americans' ecological footprint. In the manufacturing process of recycled paper compared to virgin paper production, not only is less virgin forest destroyed and land converted, but:
- 74% Less air pollution is generated
- 35% Less water pollution is generated
- 58% Less water is required
- 64% Less energy is required
Reduce printing and photocopying by saving documents on your computer hard drive, and emailing articles to colleagues.
By habit and custom, many office workers tend to print out any and everything (including routinely printing out their emails), rather than storing and reading many of these documents in electronic format. But, electronic storage facilitates more rapid sharing of documents with many more colleagues worldwide at a fraction of the cost of printing and mailing the documents.
It is true that documents are harder to read on computer screens than in print, although screen resolution constantly improves and within the next half decade or so electronic screens should be available that offer similar visual quality to paper. That doesn’t help now, although you can increase the size of the font on your computer screen to make it easier to read, even on laptop screens.
Print and photocopy double-sided (duplex) copies as the norm, and minimize single-sided printing and photocopying to absolute necessities.
It takes 10 times more energy to manufacture paper as it does to print and/or photocopy images on to paper. Hence, duplexing greatly reduces the carbon (greenhouse gas emissions) and ecological footprint relative to one-sided printing/copying.
In addition, when combined with copying two pages per side, the amount of paper used in photocopiers can be reduced by up to 75 percent. Such duplexing also reduces the weight and cost of mailing documents, as well as substantially shrinking the cabinet and floor space required to archive and store documents in bookcases and filing cabinets.
Encourage your office to purchase 100% post-consumer waste, non-chlorinated paper stock.
To lessen your impact on the environment use 100 percent post-consumer waste non-chlorinated paper. Although the cost may be a little higher than bleached virgin paper, the cost to the environment is significantly lower.
Forty percent of all solid waste is generated from a variety of paper products. Office paper comprises a quarter of that waste, and currently less than twenty percent of office wastepaper in the U.S. is recovered for recycling. Although recycled paper is more expensive, it will not gain purchasing strength until the demand for it increases. Especially the demand for products made from materials that would otherwise be discarded ("post-consumer content"). Post-consumer content refers to products having completed their lives as consumer items and if not recycled, would otherwise be disposed of as solid waste. 100 percent post-consumer waste paper stock is made completely from recycled products. When buying, remember, the higher the percentage of post consumer waste, the larger the amount of recycled material in the paper stock.
The majority of the paper used today is chlorinated or bleached to a bright white before it is used in offices. The process for bleaching paper creates a pollution by-product; but many companies now provide different forms of non-chlorinated paper to avoid this. There is totally chlorine-free paper stock (TCF), virgin paper produced without chlorine or any of its derivatives; processed chlorine-free paper (PCF) that contains recycled content produced without chlorine or its derivatives but some of the fibers may have originally been bleached; partially processed chlorine-free paper stock (%PCF), with the listed percentage made from recycled content and produced without chlorine with the virgin portion remaining bleached; and elementally chlorine-free paper stock (ECF), virgin paper produced without chlorine but with chlorine derivatives. Non-chlorinated paper is more natural in color, but is of the same high quality as the bleached variety.
Use black-and-white Econo-mode computer printing settings for all draft copies, and avoid color printing unless absolutely necessary.
Additional energy savings and toner savings can be achieved by setting your printer default setting for eco-mode (typically the lowest DPI setting) for all printing of internal and draft copies.
The life of the toner cartridge depends on the amount of toner that print jobs require. When printing text at five percent coverage an HP toner cartridge lasts an average of 15,000 pages. (A typical business letter is about 5% coverage). Econo-mode can use 50% less toner, enabling twice as many pages to be printed.
Press the EnergySaver (or PowerSaver) button after photocopying, and check to see if the photocopier is turned off at the end of the day.
By pressing the EnergySaver button after photocopying you can significantly reduce the electric wattage consumed by photocopies normally left in the print mode. Checking at the end of the day to ensure it has been turned off will generate even larger electricity savings overnight and on weekends. Post signs above the copiers to remind staff, and if you walk by and hear the hum of a copier, that indicates it is in print mode, so hit the EnergySaver button.
In fax machines, use the other side of already-used, single-sided paper that was going to be discarded.
Many employees dispose of printer/copier paper that is clean on the backside and could easily be reused in fax machines or for printing draft copies of material. Other institutions like the World Resources Institute have implemented programs that recycle one-sided paper and dedicate certain fax and printer machines to just use this used paper. As a result, WRI paper consumption has declined by tens of percent.
<< Back to What You Can Do At Work | Next tip >>