Businesses have certainly embraced recycling over the past two decades, particularly for paper products. Almost half of the top 10 recycled products come from trees and include newspaper, corrugated cardboard, magazines and mixed papers, says Care2.com.
The next logical step to have a green office is to encourage the office to go as paper-free as possible.
Cutting Out Paper Reduces Clutter & Increases Work Space
If you’ve gone paperless or taken paper-free steps at home, you know how liberating it is.
- Online billing and banking frees us from stacks of bills that get lost in the piles we create to “sort” out the mail.
- E-subscriptions mean no more newspapers piling up and offering nests to little critters you’d rather stay outside.
- Digital photos never get lost or torn and take up no physical space.
Now share the joy at work. Show your colleagues or employees what it’s like to have a cleaner and larger work space without actually moving the cubicle walls!
- Switch everyone to digital subscriptions for business journals and news.
- Make sure everyone is paid via direct deposit or PayPal; send pay stubs through email.
- Actively discourage printer use by setting printer defaults to scan. CIO suggests moving printers with no scanning capabilities to less convenient locations.
But first: host a cleaning-out and shredding party.
Hold an Office Clean & Shred Party
Host a shredding party with the stated goal of a cleaner office.
Buy shredders and place them where the printers used to be. That sends a not-so-subtle message that there’s too much paper. Even better, put coffee and snacks in the area around it. It’ll attract people to the area and start a conversation.
Be sure to weigh the shredded paper afterward. Paper shredded at a recycling and fraud awareness event held by the Better Business Bureau in Killeen, Texas, weighed in at 14,000 pounds. (That didn’t include 600 pounds of flattened cardboard.) But even hauls much smaller than that can be impressive, so be sure you also document (with a digital camera) and share (digitally) the evidence of how much stuff is cluttering the office!
If people seem unsure about what to save, offer them the opportunity to scan their documents and then shred them. Scanned documents can be added to electronic files that frankly, make them easier to find.
Make Scanning & Online Document Sharing the Norm
Remember that recommendation to set printer defaults to scan? Make that the new normal in your office.
Not everyone has used a scanner, but it’s as easy as using a photocopier (another tool we wish would go away). First, make sure all printer settings on the business network default to scanning. Then make sure everyone knows how to use the scanner. Narrate and film a demonstration and post the video on the office intranet along with presentations on other digital activities like file sharing.
File and document sharing are a must for today’s office. Choose a method that will be easiest for most of your coworkers/employees. For example, if your office runs on Microsoft, use SharePoint. Office 365 has a similar service, OneDrive. (Microsoft has also made 365 free to qualified nonprofit groups.)
Offices that use Google functions should be using GoogleDocs, which offers many of the same capabilities as Microsoft Office. Many businesses also use vendors like BaseCamp and Dropbox to share with clients. Get with your IT people and set up an easy path for employees to use document sharing services.
Make this your companies New Year’s Resolution to Green your Office by recycling, going paperless and conserving natural resources that will keep the landfills free for other types of trash that can’t be recycled.