How To Reduce Paper Usage In The Office?


The average office uses 10,000 sheets of paper per employee each year (1).

Okay, so you may be thinking ‘we don’t spend that much on paper in the office’, however, that’s not entirely true. What you don’t realise is that the actual purchase cost of the paper is merely the tip of the iceberg.

Once purchased, you’re then actually paying on top for storage, printing, copying, postage, disposal and recycling. This is without taking into account the actual price of the printer and the ongoing maintenance it requires.

In fact, latest statistics suggest that associated costs with purchasing paper can be over 30 times the cost of the paper itself!

Paying attention now?

Not only is the cost high, but the environment is suffering with every sheet of paper you print.

Over 40% of all wood pulp worldwide goes towards making paper and half a cup of water is used to produce every single sheet of paper. If you think these are frightening statistics, think of it from the point of view of the wildlife.

So how can you reduce paper usage in the office?

How to reduce paper usage in the office – Top tips

Use both sides of the paper

This may sound like an obvious point, but you’d be surprised how many people print one-sided. Just by changing your printer settings to double-sided you’ll immediately cut your paper usage by 50%! Only select one-sided printing when the documents are very important.

Think before you print

It’s often too easy just to hit the print button. So before hitting that print button, make sure you think to yourself ‘do I really need to print this document?’.

Another useful tip is to check the layout and ‘print preview’ before printing. This saves wasteful mistakes when something doesn’t print out as you planned.

Also, make sure you never print out an entire document when you only need several of the pages! Time and time again people will just hit ‘print’ without actually checking how many of the pages are actually useful. If you’re serious about reducing your paper waste then try to avoid printing out single line emails and short notes.

Try electronic alternatives

Too many leaflets and newsletter are printed out these days that could just have easily been emailed to everyone in the office instead. This is completely wasteful when the same outcome can be achieved with a simple group email.

Also, too many people still make hand written revisions to documents after printing them. The next time you do this, try editing the document online and only print when you’re satisfied with it. Another little online trick is to format your page with small borders and reduce the text size.

This technique often saves you 10% in paper wastage. There are also a host of online programs that allow you to read documents in very realistic ways without having to print the whole lot. An example here would be the Soda PDF Reader which allows a 3D reading experience.

Start the recycling process

You would be amazed how many offices do not recycle their paper. Starting a recycling program can drastically reduce your carbon footprint and save your organization money! Make sure to also buy recycled-content paper. The paper should be preferably made from paper pulp recycled without the use of chlorine.

Those are the main points. However, you can always do more. Consider having your printer serviced regularly to stop costly malfunctions and also consider buying thinner paper. When you need a notepad try using the back of recycled piece of printed paper. Although your office may not ever be paperless, every little helps.

(1) Ecology

About the Author Staff Writer

Our writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.

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