Businesses that want to go green may try to adopt a "paperless office" mentality, avoiding printing or using paper products whenever possible. But paper is necessary in many cases — and sometimes, employees prefer to work with paper rather than digital screens.
Good news: You can use paper without totally sacrificing environmental sustainability. Here are some tips on how your business can go green by making smart use of its paper products.
Use Recycled Paper
Using recycled paper products is one of the most basic yet effective green initiatives that businesses can implement. Manufacturing recycled paper uses less energy and water and produces lower carbon emissions than non-recycled paper. It helps preserve forests because fewer trees are needed for paper production. Additionally, paper can be recycled four to five times, which reduces landfill waste.
Recycled paper is often more expensive than non-recycled, but businesses can offset the costs by making a conscious effort to buy in bulk. Adding more reams or cases to your next order can reduce any increases in price from using a recycled product.
Recycle the Paper that You Use
Encourage paper recycling. First, get clarity on how recycling works for your building: Does your building's maintenance company recycle paper waste? If so, how can you make sure you're following the guidelines to get all your paper in the right bins? If you don't rely on a maintenance company for trash pickup, check with your city or town's public works department for information on recycling pick-up times.
Once you know the rules, spread the word. Let your employees know where to dispose of their paper, and emphasize the importance of doing so.
Reduce Paper Waste
Look for opportunities to reuse paper products. For instance, when a file folder is no longer relevant, relabel and reuse it. Or the next time you think about reaching for a Post-it note, grab a piece of scrap paper instead. Use double-sided printing and disable cover sheets if your printer has these capabilities. While all printers are different, you can typically make these changes by selecting "printer settings" where you can make changes to paper size and orientation.
You can also set up a tray next to the printer and fill it with scrap paper that has a blank side. Employees can reuse this for quick, internal print jobs.
A few simple changes to your work habits are often enough to help your office go green. Get information on purchasing recycled paper, learn recycling guidelines for your building or city, and make full use of the paper you have on hand.