Five Ways to Reduce Your Paper Consumption At The Office

One study estimates that a $5 ream of paper could end up costing you up to $155 with the associated costs (storage, copying, printing, disposal, postage and more) factored in.

Today, with the average office employee using about 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, it makes both good business and environmental sense to reduce paper consumption. Here are five easy ideas:

  1. Recycle – Close the loop on your paper use. Buy paper with recycled content, and recycle the paper that you do use. Set up a recycling program if your office does not already have one, or explore ways to make your current program more efficient. Make sure proper signage and instructions are in place and consider offering refresher recycling education sessions. Raising awareness about recycling can result in more thoughtful paper use.
  2. Think or ask… before printing anything. Can the Powerpoint presentation be printed with two or even four slides to a page? Can people share the meeting agenda? Can you email the information? Often, you will find that your colleagues and clients might prefer electronic materials, especially if they are memos or documents that are designed to be seen and not kept.
  3. Change the default settings – Printers and copiers can be set to default to duplex (double-sided) printing, saving up to 40% of paper usage. Setting the default margins from 1.25″ to 1″ can cut the amount of paper used by up to 8%. Work with your IT department to change these settings throughout your office.
  4. Use technology – Just as GPS and navigation systems eliminated the need for printed maps while traveling, reports can be edited on the computer instead of by hand, internal memos can be sent via email instead of the office mailbox, faxes can be sent electronically, and forms can be filled out online.
  5. Maintain your printers and copiers – Paper jams and poor copies and printouts result in a great deal of paper waste. Make sure your machines are reliable and well maintained.
    Keep an eye on toner and ink levels, and notify the appropriate department if you see an issue with your machines resulting in paper waste.
Sign up for "3 to Zero (Waste)." Get 3 tips each month + insights.