A sustainable business is one that can continue to grow and prosper into the future — and for many businesses, that means developing environmentally sustainable policies. Green initiatives not only improve a business’s reputation but also save businesses money by reducing waste. With simple acts like turning off unused lights and devices, altering the workspace temperature a few degrees, and placing recycling bins around the office, businesses can build loyalty in their audiences, reduce expenditures, and save the environment.
Paper usage has a profound impact on the environment, and it can easily be eliminated from the workplace. While many paper elimination tactics are obvious — e.g., print less — others are less evident to business leaders who are new to environmental pursuits. Here are a few uncommon ways to reduce paper usage even further.
Host Paperless Meetings
Most meetings require a surprising amount of paper. Hosts send paper memos reminding attendees of the meeting, and they print off paper itineraries and reports to distribute at the meeting’s start. Attendees take notes on paper pads and submit revisions using paper hardcopies. Sometimes, meetings utilize large paper pads for brainstorming or idea organization.
Every one of these uses of paper is unnecessary. It is easier and more cost-effective to altogether eliminate the use of paper in meetings. Rather than sending paper memos, itineraries, and reports, hosts can email their attendees the important documents or supply USB drives containing relevant information at the beginning of the meeting. Attendees can use note-taking programs on digital devices like smartphones, tablets, or laptops to record any comments or observations. Finally, conference rooms can come furnished with reusable writing boards, like whiteboards, chalkboards, or even Smartboards, which are interactive displays that combine projection, writing, and touch capabilities. There is no need for paper in an office that is properly equipped with technology.
Reconsider Contract Management
It’s traditional to sign contracts in hardcopy form. However, considering that business contracts can span dozens of pages, using paper to manage contracts is a waste of money, time, and space. Printing a large document is costly, requiring not only the paper but also the ink and energy of a printer. Then, businesses must deliver the printed document to both parties which requires scheduling, and businesses must physically store contracts in a location that allows organization and easy access.
Digital contracts are superior for almost all reasons. First, they do away with a significant amount of paper waste because they remain on digital devices. Because they can be sent over the internet, they eliminate the need for scheduling, and they can be stored securely within a contract management system. Even better, many contract management solutions automate contract lifecycle management, alerting business leaders when contracts’ obligations have been fulfilled, when contracts should be terminated or renewed, and when contract conditions have been broken. Hardcopy contracts might be traditional, but digital contracts are ideal.
Revise Contact Information
Even a paperless office sometimes suffers the appearance of paper thanks to traditional mail. Customers and clients might send documents via post; bills and junk mail often fall into corporate mailboxes. Fortunately, it is possible to eliminate even this paper to achieve an even greener business position.
One way to discourage paper usage from third parties is to eliminate a paper contact option. If businesses fail to provide a mailing address on their contact information, customers, clients, and others will be unable to send wasteful paper post. However, business leaders must provide alternative means of contact, such as email addresses, phone numbers, and e-faxes, so customers and clients can still get in touch.
Almost all bills can be paid online, which prevents paper from piling up and saves bill providers money on paper and postage. Junk mail is slightly more difficult to eradicate, but the task is not impossible. Businesses can contact opt-out organizations to take their mailing address off various mailing lists, but even then, it might take months for the junk mail trail to go dry.
Rework Print Settings
Even when every employee is on board with transforming an office into a sustainable, paperless space, there will be times when using paper is utterly unavoidable. In these instances, it is imperative that business configure print settings to be as eco-friendly as possible. Here are a few printing tips that help businesses reduce the impact of printing:
- Take advantage of Print Preview. It is easy to catch potential printing errors in this digital preview, helping businesses avoid costly reprints.
- Print on both sides. This can cut paper use in half.
- Optimize page layout. Businesses should avoid printing banner pages or other elements that do not provide value. Additionally, businesses can automatically reduce margin size, adjust headers and footers, decrease font size, and more.