Save $, Save a Piece of Paper

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I have been coming across some devastating statistics on office paper waste in the U.S. Did you know:

  • The typical office worker uses about 10,000 sheets (20 reams) of paper per year.
  • A typical office discards almost 350 pounds of paper per employee each year.
  • About 1 trillion sheets of paper are used for digital printers and copiers in the U.S. each year.
  • The average document gets copied 19 times.

The waste of time and money is mind boggling. But, there are several easy, free ways to use less paper in your day-to-day printing and copying.

As an ecopreneur you understand that wasting resources is inefficient and no way to run a business.  There is a clear correlation between saving paper and saving money. If you save some paper, that’s just less you have to buy (not to mention the ink, toner, etc… that you save).  The good news is that its easy to do.  For example, you can reduce office paper use by:

  • 50% by using duplex (two-sided) copying.
  • 30% a year by installing software that eliminates unnecessary printout pages.
  • 15% by using the Arial Narrow font.
  • 30% of billing related costs by switching to electronic payment and billing services.
  • 40% of overall document-related costs by implementing a digital document management solution.
  • 89% by sending and receiving faxes directly from your computer.

A good way to reduce the amount of paper you use is to change the way print and make copies.  Make them formal policies and post them above printers and copiers:

  • Dedicate a copier or printer tray for draft documents. Then fill the tray with paper already printed on one side.
  • Switch to duplex printing and copying. If possible, set printers and copiers so they default to double-sided printing.
  • Use multi-up printing when possible. Some printers have drivers that can print multiple pages on a sheet.
  • Only print the selections you need. If you need to print only a paragraph or two of a document, highlight it and use the Print Selection function.
  • Use Print Preview and Shrink to Fit Functions. Use the Print Preview feature to ensure that what you are about to print is only what you need and intend to print.  Use the Shrink to Fit function to proportionally decrease the font size of text in the document to condense the text sufficiently to eliminate unnecessary text.
  • Install software that eliminates unnecessary printout pages. Software, like Greenprint, FinePrint and HP Smart Web Printing can be used to eliminate wasted pages.
  • Make use of PDF formatting and scanners to digitize hard copy data for storage.  Printing directly to PDF eliminates the need to print at all!

To put it in perspective, if every small business in the United States took steps to save a single piece of virgin office paper each day it would save 317 trees a day and enough energy to run 5.3 million 80 watt conventional light bulbs for one hour.

I know I’m preaching to the converted, but if we all save one extra document to PDF or increase our duplex printing each day we can make a bigger difference — and save some money too.  Are you saving paper in a novel way?  Please share!

Photo: Eric Ortner at sxc.hum.

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