How to Save the World with a Mouse Click
Quick Tips on Green Printing
With Recycle Week now over, Rob Fenn at the British Assessment Bureau takes a look at simple ways of dramatically reducing paper use.
Despite being very much in the digital age, printing in the office hasn’t abated. Whilst email may have replaced conversation in many situations, we still can’t resist hitting that print button! In the UK alone, we get through 12.5 million tonnes of the stuff each year.
In fairness, the idea of a completely paperless office simply just wouldn’t work for all businesses. Back in the ‘70s, the idea was heralded as ‘the future’. Since then, paper consumption has actually increased. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t come close to being paperless, using a little bit of innovative thinking and efficiency. We hope the following tips will help you get started!
How can you print the same things on less paper? It’s all in the settings. Before you point your mouse at ‘print’, consider the following:
- Reducing font size
- Reducing the margins
- Printing multiple pages per sheet
- Printing pages you need, not the whole document
- Sharing copies in meetings
Anyone proficient in Microsoft Word or similar programs can edit the above. Whilst different web browsers do things slightly differently, using the print preview option allows you to shrink the page, remove unnecessary background colours and select the specific pages you need printed. If you think your colleagues need a helping hand, why not create a little guide for each of your most used software programs in the office?
You can save ink cartridge costs from changing your font colour to grey from black and looking at your printer’s settings for an economy or ‘eco’ mode.
Get in the cloud
No, I’m not talking ‘blue sky thinking’ here, cloud computing is simply the hosting of documentation online, in the same way an intranet or website works. Most web hosting companies provide cloud solutions which bring a range of benefits:
- Documents accessible from anywhere with an internet connection
- Less IT hardware needed in-house
- Reduced administration time
- Time saved searching for ‘lost’ files
- Client and internal data is securely backed up
- There is in-built scalability; any sized business can use it
- No need to print!
Research has estimated Cloud computing could save UK companies to save over £6billion off their energy bills and reduce carbon emissions by 85.7 tonnes per. That’s a ream of resulting benefits, all thanks to cutting paper use!
Before recycling, make sure you’re getting the most out of your paper. Printing double-sided is an obvious one, but that doesn’t necessitate a fancy printer! Any internal printing no longer needed can be flipped over and put back in the printer’s tray to use. You’ll be surprised by the amount of paper that can be reused that has been sitting on people’s desks for weeks, or stuffed in their desk drawers for months!
When it comes to recycling, the UK recycles around 67% of its paper. That leaves the resulting 33% ending up in landfill, usually because it hasn’t been separated from normal rubbish. Consequently, having dedicated recycling bins is a sure-fire way of improving your recycling rates. If you use a cleaning firm, ensure they are briefed on where it needs to end up. If you dispose of your own waste, check with your council on what can and can’t be recycled.
Selling the idea
As you’re reading this article, you’re exactly the sort of person we’re trying to talk to. However, we both know the challenge is getting everybody in the office involved. Therefore, it’s important that selling the idea is made simple.
It’s easy to go in with the argument that using less paper is better for Mother Earth. Simple, surely? Well, you may need to accept that being ‘green’ isn’t motivation enough for all; sadly research shows that public interest in environmental issues is on the wane. So how can you get people on board? Money talks! Have a chat with the finance department; how much are you spending on paper consumption, waste disposal and recycling over a year? How much do you think you could save using the methods above? In a difficult financial climate, any cost savings to be had should be well received.
A little training can go along way, and you could help to ensure buy-in by running little competitions for the best recyclers, having a progress chart on the amount of paper saved and having a few reminder stickers on printers.
This green business advice article was written by our business expert Robert Fenn of The British Assessment Bureau.