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Greener Document Management with Paper Recycling

Paper reduction, recycling and reuse save money and habitat for environmental health

Find green business solutions
printing paper The paperless office was supposed to save trees -- but we're using more paper in offices than ever before. Desktop printers and copiers just make it sooooo convenient!

If you like trees...and clean air, consider these solutions for managing your office files, paper use and digital document management. These solutions also provide a great ROI -- you buy less paper, spend less time on paperwork...and enjoy life more!

Reduce Paper Used


Print less, store emails on your computer. Use your computer desktop as handy filing cabinets...or set up a well-planned filing system of mailboxes in your email program. Print out only the emails that you need to physically manage.

Email's genius is the convenience for sorting, storing and forwarding digitally. Maximize it...master this new tool.

Print Differently

Printing drafts of documents you are writing can be helpful -- you just see spellings and grammar differently on paper. If you must print these drafts...keep a stack of prior printed pages at your desk for DRAFT printing.

Many desktop printers also allow you to print DOUBLE SIDED. That immediately cuts your paper usage by 50% -- WOW! a 50% savings! Talk about ROI!

You can also adjust the DEFAULT settings on your word processor software, Power Point, Web Browser to maximize savings of paper and ink. Don't print colors on drafts. Set margins to .5 inch vs. 1". Turn "print backgrounds off" for Web documents. Automate double sided printing. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

Reduce Data

We keep too much data! By keeping only ONE copy of information in a shared company database or content management system, you reduce the size of server farms needed. And that saves electricity, which saves on climate change, too.

By purging old files (and recycling the paper, of course), you also save the facilities space required, the metal file cabinets, the bookshelves, and the mental stress of having to find something in mountains of paper! Simple is better.

There are also legal guidelines that require you to keep important records for certain lengths of time. And you can increase your legal risk if you keep those records TOO LONG. So check with your legal management to set a policy in place -- and then work the policy!

Recycle Paper

Increased percentage of recycled content in office paper is an important part of the paper manufacturing process. However, we play a role in that massive business! American paper mills need quality office paper to supply that post-consumer content. When office paper is put into the city's "universal waste" system, it is mixed with glass -- which splinters! And glass mixed with paper breaks machinery!

So keep your recycled office paper separate and check with a local paper broker to make sure your paper is used for the highest level of recycled value -- from office paper TO office paper.

Did you know that our largest export to China is used paper? This paper is used for cheap corrugated paper for packages. That's not the best use of our quality office paper, and the ship transportation of the paper is some of the dirtiest on the planet -- and you already know that our oceans are endangered because of pollutants from shipping. So... make an effort to develop your paper recycling system to keep your quality office paper in the US, and used for high quality recycled paper content.

Use Recycled Paper

Demand builds markets. If you USE paper with recycled content, the manufacturers will make more! It's that simple. Recycled paper can be used in many desktop printers -- but check your instruction book. And if you're buying a new printer -- ask for one that can handle recycled paper.

Recycled paper can also be used to print brochures and marketing materials, packaging, menus, books, calendars, file folders, student papers...etc. Think "recycled FIRST" and increase the percentage of recyled content as much as is feasible.

Yes, paper is available as 100% recycled. But MOST office paper is 10% or 30% recycled content. The US Government requires their offices to use 30% recycled content. That's a good procurement policy to adopt.

Think "Papers are Trees"

Paper is very recyclable -- if we think it through and create a system to maximize value of each sheet. A stack of paper is equal to a tree, and we can save trees by reducing the amount of virgin paper pulp needed for our information needs. Living trees provide air filtration, water conservation and habitat for vital wildlife to keep our environment functioning.

Saving paper is something practical you can do everyday to improve your quality of life!

PASS THE WORD. But do it electronically. Send an email to your coworkers monthly about the progress your office is making! Everyone can pick up a new tip to work on for the coming month! And when they know you're doing something, they are more likely to pitch in.

Happy paper reduction days!

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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