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Reducing Paper Waste in the Workplace

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Businesses in the United States consume a vast amount of paper. Consider these statistics from Reduce.org:

  • The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
  • The United States has less than 5% of the world's population yet consumes 30% of the world's paper.
  • Over 40% of wood pulp goes toward the production of paper.
  • Printing and writing paper equals about one-half of U.S. paper production.

By minimizing your paper consumption, you can save your law firm time, money and resources. Here are some easy ways to reduce your paper use:

Go Digital

  • Use the revision features in word processing software to edit documents on screen instead of printing drafts and making hand-written comments.
  • Use e-mail instead of printed inter-office memos, mail or faxes when possible.
  • Use overhead projectors, white boards and presentation software instead of paper handouts.
  • Share firm newsletters and other information electronically instead of mailing paper copies.
  • Order supplies by e-mail.
  • File documents electronically within your firm and with the courts and other agencies.

Print Responsibly

  • Preview documents before printing. Use the print preview to spot formatting errors and blank pages before you print.
  • If you must print a document, print only the pages you need. You might try GreenPrint software (30 day free trial edition) which analyzes your print jobs and identifies pages you may not want to print, such as pages with little or no content.
  • Use double-sided copying and printing at least for drafts and internal documents.
  • Print on recycled paper with at least 30% recycled content.
  • Use a single space format for the text of final documents when possible.
  • Print drafts in a smaller font with narrower margins. Simply changing the default margins from 1.25" to 1" can reduce the amount of paper you use by up to 8%.
  • Use space-efficient fonts like Times New Roman.

Reduce Paper Consumption

  • Send fewer paper copies to clients, opposing counsel and other parties. Limit the distribution of correspondence and documents to those who really need paper copies.
  • For handouts in meetings and presentations, provide one copy for several readers rather than multiple copies.
  • Order supplies in bulk to minimize packaging waste. Return empty boxes and packaging to your supplier or reuse them.
  • Convert scratch paper into memo pads, telephone answering slips and similar items.

Recycle

  • Recycle office paper. If your office does not recycle, start a recycling office paper program.
  • Buy recycled-content paper, preferably made from paper pulp recycled without the use of chlorine.
  • Use post-it notes and business cards made from recycled paper and soy-based inks.
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