A busy office can quickly turn into a bottomless sinkhole of waste. In a rushed setting, we often do not or can not take the time to consider waste and its impact on not only the environment but, the bottom line. We tend to operate with a one-track mind…get that proposal printed as quickly as possible, scarf down lunch from carry-out containers, and junk mail goes straight in the trash. All of these opportunities can easily turn into quick moments of waste reduction.
There are three areas that will lead you and your team down a path of efficiency and in turn, to an increase in organization and money saving. Perhaps the greatest benefit of this change in behavior will be a new sense of calm, something we can all use amidst a hectic workday.
- Use both sides. Whether it be for in-house printing or scrap paper, using both sides of the paper is an essential step for reducing office waste.
- Recycle all paper products including copy paper, scraps (over 2 inches), junk mail, and newspapers. Place a recycle bin at each desk, the copy machine, and the mailroom for easy disposal. Some cities (including Cleveland) offer services that will pick up recycled paper products, and if the quantity is large enough, they pay you for it; clearly, this is a win, win.
- Think before you print. Can this item be utilized digitally instead of a hard copy? For the old schoolers like myself, this can take some adjusting. There is just something more secure about having a physical piece of paper in your hand. However, it is often unnecessary.
- Reduce unsolicited mail. This is a big one. Our office, for example, receives approximately 20-25 phone books each year and not a darn one of them gets used. What a waste. You can ask to be taken off mailing lists, sign up for the national do not mail list, send the items back marked return to sender or use a service such as 41pounds.org that will handle this for you.
- Adjust fonts and margins. Use a font such as “eco-font” that provides a thinner text and change your margins to a half inch. You will be shocked at how much paper this small change saves.
- Encourage customers to register for e-billing. This is a triple victory as it will reduce waste, save you money, and provide a value-added service for your clients.
- Use electronic data storage. Gone are the days of paper files, with cloud services scanning and storing documents is a breeze, and they are easier to access.
- Use paper with recycled content. 100% recycled paper is the goal but, it can be costly. Aim for at least a 10% post consumer waste content to keep the budget in check.
- Stock the kitchen with a set of plates, bowls, mugs, cups, and cutlery for employee use. Having a proper set of dishware on hand will encourage eating in, eliminating drawn-out lunches. Also, employee morale will skyrocket as your team bonds while breaking bread.
- Assign kitchen duty on a rotating basis in which an inventory of the dish set and cutlery is included. This will provide a feeling of ownership as the crew takes care of their kitchen and reusable.
- Provide employees with a high-quality reusable water bottle and place easily accessible water coolers or filtration units in key locations. Bathroom breaks may increase but, there is no doubt there will be less plastic water bottles in the trash. Not to mention, you will have healthier employees.
- Keep a nice set of dishes, cups, and mugs on hand for meetings. Don’t forget to include a water pitcher, your guests will be impressed with the hospitality, and your trash can will be empty.
- Consider adding a dishwasher to your kitchen allowing for an even greater ease of use of reusables.
3. Printer Ink
- Print in draft mode. More times than not, a best-quality print is simply not necessary.
- Recycle ink cartridges. Most office supply companies will not only pick up your spent cartridges with a delivery but, they will extend a small credit to your account for each one returned!
- Again, think before you print, is a hard copy essential?
- Pay no attention to low ink warnings. Wait to change your ink cartridges when you notice a demise in print quality, assuring that you use every last drop.
- Use sleep mode rather than powering off. When a printer turns on, the ink heads are aligned which uses a tiny amount of ink each time.
- Preview before you print. I can not tell you how much ink I have wasted on misprints. By simply using the print preview option, this error can be avoided altogether.
Paper, reusables, and ink that is all it takes to make a drastic change in the amount of clutter caused chaos in your office. These three quick areas of focus will set you on a path to a business that runs like a well-oiled machine that will be churning out products and services rather than garbage and waste.