Think before you print

Pushing the print button is too easy...and wasteful. So much paper is wasted by printing out single line e-mails or printing out unnecessary copies of documents.
Businesses should carefully assess their needs before ordering bulk print copies of information materials, like annual reports or brochures. In many cases hundreds, if not thousands, of unused copies end up in storage rooms clogging up storage space.

Easy ways to reduce wasteful paper use

Post in-house reminders near copy machines or individual desktops
  • Use catchy slogans like:  “Do you really need to print that?” or “Do you know how many sheets of paper you used last month?”
Track personal printing "footprints"
  • Create systems that allow staff to measure how many print copies they are personally responsible for each month. Most people are shocked to find out how much the consume. This knowledge will motivate people to reduce their personal paper footprint.
  • By tracking individual printing quantities, staff will be able to measure changes over time. One way to promote less printing is by running in-house competitions for “Paper Saving Champion” of the month – whoever prints the least copies wins!
Reduce print runs
  • Undergo an inventory to identify past printing jobs for which too many copies were ordered. This will help ensure that the quantity ordered matches demand for printing jobs in the future.
  • Publicize the results of your inventory in-house on the office notice board or in the company newsletter. 
  • Create a checklist for those departments which order informational materials. The checklist should include asking:
    • How many required recipients and back-up copies are needed.
    • Are you sure these target groups will need a hard copy of the report or is it enough to point them to a website?
    • Do they need to be proactively sent the hard copy or is it sufficient to make it available upon request?
    • Do you need in-house copies for all staff or can copies be held in communal areas/on notice boards?
    • How many reserve copies do you require and why? For what events or purposes?
    • Who will distribute or oversee the distribution of the reserve copies?
Review distribution lists frequently
  • Eliminate outdated or unnecessary recipients.
  • See if destinations with many recipients can make do with fewer copies.
Conduct paper-less meetings
  • When you hold a meeting, do you really need to have hard copies of preparatory materials available for each participant?
  • Encourage people to use their computers for reviewing documents and note-making
  • Make sure meeting participants have electronic access to all the materials beforehand. Encourage those using computers not to print out copies. If you must, supply additional materials at the meeting. Consider burning CDs for all participants.
  • Make copies “as needed” rather than in large batches at one time. Frequently, extra copies of important internal documents become outdated quickly and only end up being discarded. Making copies as needed can reduce this problem significantly.

The golden rule of saving paper

Think twice if you really need to print. If necessary, make sure you print on both sides – this is an easy way to reduce paper consumption by half.

Save Paper!

  • pocket book rating / ©: WWF Switzerland
    The Save Paper! section of the WWF website is a detailed guide that allows businesses and individuals to save paper and reduce its environmental impacts.

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