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Five Easy Ways to Use Less Paper

John Platt, February 02, 2010

Are you using too much paper in your job? According to reduce.org, the paperless office is nowhere near reality, and the average office worker uses a shocking 10,000 pages of per ever year. Averaged out to 200 work days, that's 50 sheets of paper every single day!

But don't worry, there are several easy things you can do -- both as an individual and on a company level -- to reduce that pile of paper, which will improve your environmental footprint and save money.

1. Work digitally -- You don't always need to print things out. Share documents electronically and try using collaborative software like Google Docs.

2. Print to PDF -- Think before you print. Do you really need a paper copy of that web page? Or will a saved digital file work better? I use a free program called PDF Creator that uses the "print" feature in any of my programs to generate a PDF of any document.

3. Go Green -- Have your company install the enterprise version of GreenPrint World. This program (which costs $70 per user on your site, with volume discounts available) examines every print job and lets you decide what elements to print and which ones to skip (say, photographs, or the legal disclaimers at the bottom of a web page). It keeps track of how many pages you don't print, allowing you to "track your impact" (how much paper you have used, or how much ink you have saved) and monitor your overall printing habits. GreenPrint says this can save companies $100 per user every year -- that's a lot of paper!

(By the way, individuals can download a free version of GreenPrint World, so you don't necessarily have to wait for your company to do this for you.)

4. If you must print, print on both sides -- Many printers can automatically handle duplex printing, and you should be able to change your print defaults (either individually or system-wide) to always print documents on both sides of a piece of paper.

Oh, and don't forget to make your margins as small as possible. There's no need to waste an inch or more on all four sides of a piece of paper.

5. Kill the fax -- Why is this technology still in use? Electronic documents are more flexible, easier to send and easier to read than faxes. If you absolutely have to send or receive faxes, use an online service like faxZERO to get rid of your fax machine. You'll use less paper and less energy in the process.

Give these tips a try and see how quickly you cut your paper use. Even a 50% reduction saves 5,000 sheets a year, so what do you have to lose?

Tags: Conserve, Green Business Ideas, Green Ideas, Green Software, Money-saving Ideas, Paper, Reduce, Use Less

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