10 ways to reduce paper waste from your desk

Paper waste can be a significant contributor towards environmental degradation and global warming (not to mention being costly for your office). Fortunately there are things that all of us can do today to take action to reduce paper waste and help save the environment. Read on to discover 10 ways that you can reduce paper waste and help make a positive impact.
Man with ‘Recycle, Reuse, Reduce’ drawing to fight back paper waste

Despite what Donald Trump may say, climate change is a hot topic across the world right now. Much is being done by governments and organisations around the world to attempt to mitigate and reverse the effects of climate change, and the landmark Paris Agreement signed by almost 200 countries marks a significant step. Even the Pope handed the aforementioned US president a 192-page letter about why climate change is important during a recent visit.

Transport and power production are big contributors to global warming, but one thing you may not have considered as a major factor in climate change is the use of paper and ink. The production of a single ink cartridge alone results in 8kg of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere. One factory produces as many as 200,000 cartridges a month, and in doing so emits similar CO2 levels to 500 homes. Coupled with the deforestation that occurs to produce the paper (and the further associated emissions), it’s easy to see why reducing printing and paper waste is good for the environment.

Take action today to reduce paper waste

    It’s important to note that these environmental impacts are very much consumer driven, and by reducing the amount of printing they do, office employees can have a significant impact in helping to reduce harmful emissions that contribute to climate change. With that in mind, and with World Paper Free Day just around the corner, here are 10 ways that you can reduce your own paper waste.

    1. Only print when necessary – This seems like a simple step, and it is, but how many times have you printed out a document that you didn’t need to? Examples include:

    • Printing documents that you already have copies of
    • Printing ‘to sign’ – electronic signatures are legally binding, and can be added to documents using software tools such as Power PDF.
    • Printing ‘to edit’ – Though there may be a certain satisfaction that comes with actually crossing things out with a pen, ask yourself if you could reduce paper waste by editing directly on screen.

    2. Print only the parts that you need – this can be achieved by using the ‘select pages’ function in the print dialogue, or copying and pasting the required text into a new document.

    3. Print on both sides of the paper – This can usually be selected from within your printer’s settings dialogue box.

    4. Fit more onto a single page – There are lots of things you can do to fit more text and graphics onto a single page, and thus save considerable amounts of paper waste. For example, you can reduce the font size, shrink the margins, and reduce the space taken up by the footer and header. Be sure to check the print preview before printing so that you know that it will look ok.

    5. Re-use paper – Far too often, people print on one-side of the paper and throw it away when they’re done. Remember that on the other side of the paper there is a perfectly usable sheet which can be used for notes or even more printing.

    6. Recycle – Paper recycling is a great way to reduce paper waste. Check with your office or facilities manager to see what recycling schemes are in place if you’re not sure how to recycle paper in your office.

    7. Go digital – Documents stored electronically can often be more secure than they would be in locked filing cabinet. What’s more, they take up no space at all. Software like Power PDF can be used to encrypt sensitive documents and add passwords. To ensure that all your document processes are paperless, you can also request that all suppliers send invoices in digital form via email rather than through the post or fax.

    8. Always proofread – If you do have to print, make sure that you thoroughly check it over for typos and other errors to avoid having to print again.

    9. Encourage others – You might like to add a sentence to your email signature, to the effect of – ‘please think about the environment before printing out this email.

    10. Help educate people – Become an active participant in the environmental movement by making sure that your colleagues know about the importance and benefits of reducing paper waste. You can also help give them ideas for what they can do by sharing this blog with them.

    Take a look at Power PDF today to discover one method of dramatically reducing your paper waste.


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