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THE PAPER CHASE

It may be time for spring cleaning, but there's a blizzard out there! Of paper, that is. The rise of the service economy over the last 35 or so years has given rise to the paper economy. Both were aided by a revolution in widely used office equipment -- computers, printers, copiers and fax machines. And now, with the proliferation of home offices and home computers (and kids using computers at home and school), the same forces are also creating masses of paper clutter and waste where we live.

Today, office paper and related business materials (brochures, flyers, newsletters, pamphlets, catalogs, etc.) represent the largest source of non-durable solid waste -- bigger than such typically vilified items as disposable diapers or plastic packaging. For perspective,the volume of office paper and commercial printing increased a whopping 245% between 1960 and 1994, from 3.9 to 13.5 million tons. During this time, all other solid municipal waste generated was up much less -- about 133% (which is still a lot!).

And even though much of this paper is high quality and easily recycled, we're printing, faxing,copying and collating memos at a much faster rate than can be dealt with by recycling programs. Whatever happened to the so-called paperless society?

Time to Use Less Stuff!
In fact, by creating a system that follows the three R's, it's possible to eliminate virtually ALL paper waste. We estimate that since starting our program, paper waste has been reduced an amazing 99%! Here's what you can do:

Reduce

  • Share electronic files, voice mail and e-mail with associates, rather than paper memos. Save what you need to electronically; use hard copies only when really necessary.
  • Scan documents into the computer and transfer information by disk or intra-office network.
  • If you must send paper to more than one person, attach a routing slip and pass along as necessary. Do the same with newspaper and magazine subscriptions.
  • If your company has electronic funds transfer (EFT) for payroll, sign up for it. Have suppliers and vendors arrange for EFT between your firm and theirs.
  • Reduce fax traffic by switching to fax modems. You can send and receive faxes on your computer and view them on-screen. For those worth saving, do so electronically.
  • Try to skip cover sheets when sending faxes. Most letters and memos already include the name of the receiver, and your fax machine probably stamps your name and phone number on the top of each page.
  • Subscribe to online rather than paper news services.
  • Reduce the amount of paper that is easily available in the supply closet. Psychologically, when people see ream upon ream, they think that paper is plentiful and cheap. But when they see less and are led to believe that there isn't any more, or that additional quantities will cost more and be charged to their budget, paper consumption will drop dramatically! (Ditto for pencils, pens, clips, rubber bands, etc.)
  • Reduce the weight of the paper used in your printers, copiers, and fax machines. Given how much paper the typical office uses in a year, even a few ounces saved per ream adds up quickly.
  • Photocopy on both sides of the paper. The extra few seconds it takes to push the "duplex" -- or double sided -- button on the machine can help cut copy paper usage by almost as much as 50%.
  • Reduce catalog clutter and third class mailings by calling the 800 number of the catalog and asking to be removed from their list, or put on a reduced list, if available. Call the Mail Preference Service for their direct mail reduction kit at 212-768-7277

    Reuse

  • Flip faxes over and use the paper again. If you want your faxes printed, get a "plain paper" versus a "thermal" fax. The thermal paper is harder to write on, discolors, and can't be reused or recycled.
  • Collate old single-sided memos, faxes, etc. into piles, with the printed side face down. Separate them into piles of about 25 sheets. Staple each pile four times along the edge of one of the two longer sides. Use the paper cutter to divide the stapled pile into two stapled sections, creating 5.5" x 8.5" scratch pads.
  • When all the name and address spaces on mail envelopes have been filled in, tape a blank piece of paper to the envelope and label with two columns, one for name and the other for address. Voila! The envelope can be used again and again!
  • Keep a large plastic bag next to the shredder, and fill it when the shredder basket becomes full. Use this material for packing and cushioning, eliminating the need to purchase "peanuts."
    The ULS Report,

    Organize Computer DESKTOP CLUTTER

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