Monday, May 23, 2011

Paper Reduction - It's the Green Thing to Do

I got asked one day how many sheets of paper in a tree? (Over 8,000). It's the new benchmark of green-y; how many trees you can save from the chopping block. Hold off the printer, retire the copier, and read it online. As I tour offices with my Information Manager's eyes, I don't see stacks of paper any more. The signs of disorder are hidden away on e-mail and shared drives.

Reducing paper production - especially at source - is a great way for a company to go green and save money besides. I've posted a paper savings estimator on my site ( that will show you how many trees you've saved and how many greenhouse emissions you've reduced. I've made counting easy, too. Add up the number of boxes of paper your area purchased last month or last year, and chunk in the number.

Using Shel Busey's good-better-best ratings, let's compare ways a corporation can reduce paper consumption.

Switch to 100% recycled paper. Reduce the number of copiers in the office, and eliminate personal printers. You might consider an all-in-one printer/copier/scanner. Be sure you have procedures to confirm that the scans are authentic (CAN/CGSB-72.34), and have a plan where the scans will go. No use scanning if you have no place to put it.

To get paper off the floor and everyone working online, scan your high volume collections. This will get you your space savings (if staff don't find new ways to fill it), but it won't save you a tree. Because to scan, you have to start with paper somewhere.

Work with your IT and forms design to allow external customers to send you information electronically. PDF forms can be designed to submit directly in to your database. Set up e-pay with vendors who submit high volume transactions for payment (i.e. phone bills). Not only does this save the tree from source, you will start to see real savings in entry and handling of the information.