Paper has a huge impact on our environment, from the degradation of forests to the pollution, electricity consumption and wastage from pulp mills and the land fill issues from business and households.
Did you know that every office uses 10,000 sheets of A4 paper on average and 50% of that will end up as garbage? I bet you also never thought about how much water is wasted in paper production. Apparently the pulp and paper industry consumes more water to produce just one tonne of paper than any other industry. Australian Science states that it uses a staggering 90,000 litres of water per tonne of virgin paper.
In this age of digital advances, we still tend to fall into old patterns of paper usage in our businesses. I will be the first to admit, that when I am trying to develop a strategic policy, I love to use the pen to place my thoughts on paper, drawing a mind map of information, linkages through lines and arrows and flow charts of badly drawn circles. It works for me. Visual people often find it easier to look at the big picture or work out how units will fit together into a cohesive whole though hand written diagrams.
However, there are many other areas that your business can cut down on paper usage and move to a more paperless office. At CIRCLE Recruitment & HR, one of the processes we wanted to utilise was that of electronic documents. Meaning, that we could send our Terms & Conditions to clients for signature, they could sign on line and return to us. Thereby, cutting out the need to print documents for a pen signature. For us, this simple step has not only cut down on paper usage, but sped up our systems, meaning faster turn around time for clients and more returned signed T&C’s for us!
Simply training your staff to save emails onto your server in a client file, can reduce the need to print out important notes from clients sent via email. What about some simple training in ‘typing and talking’, so your receptionist, types customer enquiries, directly into a database or sends emails immediately instead of filling out the message note pad with the details of the call.
Utilising used paper for scrap paper is another great initiative. Obviously making sure that there are no personal details on the paper and it is not something that is confidential, or should be shredded. Training staff to write on both sides of paper and utilising their used paper as scrap, is a simple but highly effective idea.
For those times when you need a fresh piece of A4, what about switching to recycled paper? Reflex make a 100% recycled paper, that we switched to and the price is comparative. Planet Ark and Australian Paper have developed a partnership, which aims to increase recycling of office paper and among other aims, reduce Australian waste paper going to landfill. They also push for business to use recycled paper.
We might only be a small business, but if every business did just a little bit, we could reduce consumption, reduce landfill, lower pollution and take better care of this wonderful world we live in?
Has anyone else tied some simple yet effective office based environmental ideas for a sustainable business and planet?
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