Greener Printing Methods and Products for Small Businesses

Cartridge ChangingIn Office Depots 2012 Small Index Study, they found that 60% of small businesses want to green their ink and toner cartridges. Not only are printer and toner cartridges expensive for businesses, they have a high environmental cost. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over 350 million printer cartridges are thrown away each year, and each one takes over 450 years to decompose.  That’s a lot of cartridges filling up our landfills.

There are several ways to green up your printer usage.

  1. Recycle Used Cartridges: Recycling used printer cartridges is a popular way to save money and help save the environment. Many office supply stores will take back used cartridges and give you a store credit in return. Office Max and Staples both offer a $2 credit for each cartridge, which also saves you money on office supplies if you purchase from these businesses. There are also numerous toner cartridge recycling businesses popping up nationwide. In addition to the environmental benefits, recycled cartridges often cost half of what new cartridges do, offering savings to business owners.
  2. Use Soy Ink: Another option is to switch to soy ink, instead of the more common ink products, which are petroleum-based.  Soy ink has several benefits. It is made from soy oil, which comes from a renewable resource, while petroleum products are not. Soy ink is more biodegradable, degrading four  times faster than regular ink. Also, less soy ink is required for the same amount of printing, leading to few cartridges made and fewer cartridges thrown away.
  3. Consolidate Printing: A final option is printer consolidation. Consider removing desktop printers and fewer networked printers. This leads to less printing by your staff and fewer cartridges that need to be purchased. Educating your employees on the costs of managing paper is also beneficial for a company attempting to go green in the printing department.

If you would like to move to a paperless office, then contact us for more information.

How to Achieve a Paperless Office

Achieving a paperless office is a great way to go green for the New Year. Going paperless reduces the carbon footprint for your office, saves money, increases efficiency and promotes sound data organization. Here are some ideas and tips that are easy to implement and are zero cost.

Request Electronic Files from Vendors: Paper documents that are usually received by external entities such as vendors can be scanned and saved as a PDF file on your computer system. However, why not eliminate this process altogether and ask that vendors send all information electronically. If there is a high volume or size of information that needs to be distributed, consider using an online cloud based system to transfer documents such as Google Drive or DropBox.

Replace a Fax Machine with a Cloud Service: Many online services can be used that can convert a standard fax to a PDF document to store online or sent to your office via email. This is a great way for your office to have a real fax number but not need a dedicated fax machine. The use of a cloud service for receiving faxes eliminates the need to print out a fax on paper.

Print or Save Documents as a PDF: Documents that are obtained online or created as a text document or even a spreadsheet can be saved as a PDF file instead of a printed document. Often multiple formats that need to be consolidated into one document can be done through PDF. Simply convert each document into a PDF, and through the PDF tool, combine those documents into one PDF. This eliminates the need to print each document out only to re-scan it as one document. Both Adobe Acrobat and Nuance are the more popular PDF tools.

Organize Your Shared Drive: One of the barriers for many employees becoming paperless is that they aren’t sure where the data is located electronically. Shared drives, as well as local drives, are a mess and users find it difficult to find and access electronic information quickly and therefore print documents for easy access. Take time and get your shared drive organized. If you need help, download the guide “How to Organize Electronic Documents for Shared Drive Networks”

If you are interested in achieving a paperless office, then contact us for more information.

Going Paperless Reduces Carbon Footprint

For most small and medium sized businesses reducing paper consumption can significantly reduce an organizations carbon footprint. If the US cut office paper use by just 10 percent it would eliminate 1.6 million tons of greenhouse gases which is the equivalent of taking 280,000 cars off the road for one year. According to reduce.org, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year. Further paper statistics conclude that it takes an entire tree to generate 12,500 pieces paper, of which only 5% will ever be recycled.

As companies of all sizes realize the constraints that paper places on their businesses, they are exploring the many advantages offered by a paperless office, as identified in the article, Becoming a Paperless Office.

Even though the principles of a paperless company are beneficial, it can be challenging to leave behind a data format on which your business has always relied. Here are just a few easy tips that can start your business to reduce and recycle paper;

  • Use both sides of the paper. You can set your printer default to print both sides, make double-sided copies, and use the backs of single-sided documents that have served their purpose.
  • Think before you print. Double check print/copy properties before you print, only print the necessary pages, and share documents whenever possible.
  • Put forms, newsletters, articles and any other applicable documents online. Your management, employees and customers will have immediate access to what they need. 
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle. If your company does not yet have a recycling program, get one started. If you have one, make sure you employees know how to properly use it. Be sure to use post-consumer recycled paper whenever possible.

Going completely paperless is a commitment that will take your company time to fully implement. A first step is getting better organized electronically Then, start by improving overall automation of processes. As identified by the numbers, if every business made improvements it would make a significant impact to climate change.

Benefits of Being Paperless For Businesses and Non Profit Organizations

As a rule, many businesses and non profit organizations have been hesitant from becoming more eco-friendly because they worry that doing so is too expensive or time-consuming.  But, in recent years, more and more of them are realizing that going green can actually be cost-effective and improve efficiency.  Becoming paperless seems to be a growing trend that fits both those benefits.

Paper makes up about 25% of all landfill waste.  It also can account for 40% of all of the wood that is harvested all around the world.  It is also one of the largest users of raw materials, including fresh water, energy, and forest fibers.

The United States is by far the world’s largest producer and consumer of paper using nearly 3.7 million tons or 700 billion sheets of copy paper each year. The American paper consumption is over six times greater than the world average. We use enough office paper each year to build a 10-foot-high wall that’s 6,815 miles long. That’s more than the distance from New York to Tokyo.

Beyond the environmental impact, there is a high cost to paper as well. While the paper itself is a major expense, businesses must expect to spend 13 to 31 times more that amount just to use paper in their offices It not only includes the purchase the paper, but also includes equipment purchase and maintenance, printing supplies, filing cabinets, paper organizing supplies, paper storage, and the expense of having employees file, sort, manage paper. So, that ream of paper that cost $5 could really be a $155 to manage the full life cycle cost of paper. (For further information on the cost of paper refer to the article, The Cost of Managing Paper)

Because of the electronic age in data management organizations truly need very little paper in their offices. Businesses who transition to electronic processing and filing find that their employees spend less time locating and organizing the necessary documents. Becoming paperless is a great first sustainability initiative for small and medium sized businesses to make that not only saves money but improves overall operational efficiency. Contact us to learn more about how to start the paperless office in your organization.

Junk Mail: Get Yourself Off Mailing Lists

Junk mail isn’t just a menace at home, it’s making its way into offices too. Not only is junk mail annoying and time consuming to go through, it needlessly uses significant amounts natural resources. Every year U.S. junk mail uses paper from over 100 million trees, fills over 420,000 garbage trucks and produces 51 million tons of greenhouse gases. There are few ways that you can get off mailing lists to reduce the paper overflow.

  1. Contact the company directly and ask to be removed from their list. You can go to the ‘contact us’ page on most websites to get a direct email address.
  2. Contact Direct Marketing Association and request your name and organization be removed from their lists.
  3. New American Dream has partnered with an organization called 41pounds.org which says it can completely remove up to 95% of the junk mail you receive for a one-time fee of $41.

A Simple Switch to Recycled Paper offers Significant Environmental Savings

A simple switch from regular paper to recycled paper can be a big savings for the environment.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, a ton of recycled paper saves over 7000 gallons of water, 17-31 trees, 4,000 KWh of electricity, 60 pounds of air pollutants.

With the average office worker using over 10,000 sheets of paper per year or 700 pounds, this adds up to a lot of water, trees, electricity and pollution saved.

Although regular paper is cheaper than recycled paper, it is not by much. The average cost of a single paper ream is $5 whereas a recycled ream is averaging around $7.

For more information on the cost of managing paper, read my article, “The Cost of Managing Paper: A Great Incentive to go Paperless”, published by Inform IT.

Meeting Prep – Don’t Print that Document

A study by Xerox showed that 45% of the office paper that is discarded was on the day it was printed – which begs the question, how necessary was it to print the document in the first place?

Next time you go to a meeting, consider whether everyone really needs a full copy of all the documents. If it is just an aid to be used during the meeting and then discarded, don’t print it. Not only does this waste paper, but often people will end up reading, or skimming, the document rather than listen to you talk. However, your audience still needs to be informed, so here are some alternatives to printing a copy for each person.

  • Print one or two master copies that can be passed around.
  • Develop a 1 page executive summary that highlights the main points
  • E-mail the information out beforehand so people can be familiar with the information
  • Use an overhead projector or white board to write up the main points or topics
  • Download to a e-reader such as a Kindle or iPad

Update Your Fax and Save Paper

E-mail and scanners have all but made the fax machine a thing of the past, but most offices can’t quite give them up yet. The good news is there are now Online Faxes that allow you all the convenience of a fax machine, but use less paper, and offer other benefits:

  • Lower Cost
  • More Efficient Use of Time
  • More Reliable
  • Environmentally Responsible
  • Security

How it works:

Sending: When sending faxes, you log in to the fax website and upload the document. If the document is already a file on your hard drive, you simply upload it like an e-mail attachment. If you only have a hard copy, you’ll need to scan it, save it, then upload it. On the receiving end, the recipient will get a paper hard copy, just like you had sent it via traditional fax (unless they too have an online fax).

Receiving: When receiving incoming faxes, rather than a paper print out, you get an e-mail with an attachment. If you need to print it you can, otherwise you can just save it to the appropriate folder on your hard drive.

All those unwanted faxes, just hit delete – no need to save them to your desktop, waste paper. Need another reason? Most spam fax comes through whether you want it to or not, that means it gets printed, and you have to pay for the paper.

Becoming the Paperless Office – 4 part series by Inform IT

Inform IT has launched a 4 part series articles by myself, K.J. McCorry, to be released in the coming month on becoming the paperless office. This is preparation for my upcoming book, Becoming the Paperless Office.

Click here to view the  first article on The Cost of Managing Paper.

Click here to view the second article on Using Document Management Software to Improve Data Management and Reduce Paper.

Click here to view the third article on Organizing Documents Successfully on a Shared Drive Network.

Click here to view the fourth article on Becoming Paperless for Effectiveness and Efficiency

I will also be teaching an online webinar about paperless office through Ragan Management Resources on Wednesday, October 28th. click here to purchase the CD of the recording.