5 Ways to Reduce Paper Waste in the Office

Office paper recycling is simpler than you think

Using recycled paper (made with the pulp of used paper) is a good way of conserving an important natural resource. However, currently only 27% of the paper produced in India is of the recycled variety. The rest of it is still uses fresh raw material a.k.a trees. 3 million tonnes of waste paper is collected every year, which sounds like a lot but is only 20% of the total consumed by offices and other business establishments. If we could just improve office paper recycling process, it would make a big difference.

That said, there are things we can do in our individual capacity that can also make a difference. Here are 5 things you can start doing today to cut down paper usage in your office.


1. Think before you print: If you are thinking, how to save paper in the office, here’s the golden rule you need. Every time you are ready to push the print button, just ask yourself, “Do I really need to print this?” A lot of office paper is wasted because we print unnecessarily.

2. Print more efficiently if you must: 

  •  Print double-sided: Set printer defaults to duplex printing – this is an easy way to reduce paper consumption by 50%. Make it a habit to proof-read documents and check the preview before you hit print to reduce waste. Another smart way to save on paper is to decrease the font size while printing. If you just want to print notes, then try office paper recycling by using one sided printed paper lying around.
  • Don’t print in color: Color printing uses uses more ink than black and white. When a cartridge is thrown in a landfill, it takes up to a millennium (that’s a 1,000 years!) to decompose because ink contains resin, a potentially toxic product if not disposed of properly. The amount of ink that we use has a direct impact on the environment because making a single laser printer cartridge uses almost a gallon of oil.
  • Use eco-friendly fonts: There are now fonts available that are designed to use less ink when printed on paper. Many people think this is not really a solution, but we believe that every drop counts!

3. Get your personal recycling box: Keep a recycling box next to your desk, and use it to throw unwanted paper. When you see office paper waste piling up next to you, you will understand your personal contribution to the problem better, which is the first step to making a difference. At the end of the week, see how you can reuse that paper. Maybe even at home? Do a paper-mache project with your kids using this paper :-)

4. Don’t create waste for others: We really hope that no one does this anymore, but we’d prefer to err on the side of caution and advise that you don’t give handouts away at meetings and slide-decks to give away as handouts to all participants for a meeting? You can be sure that those handouts are going straight to the dustbin after your meeting. If better reinforcement is your goal, then share share one copy with everyone, and let them print on their own if they really need to – but after the meeting.

5. Update distribution lists: Are you still sending annual reports and other printed material to an old list. Take a look at it again. People may have moved jobs, or have evolved enough to now care about printed material. This is a small but very effective way to reduce the paper you use.

Bonus tip! Cut your paper towel usage in the washroom down to 1/3. Read this post to know how.

Get involved in the sustainability discussions in your office, and nominate yourself to the working group. Share ideas, spread the message :)

If you know of any other ways, share them with us too!


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