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The Importance of Using Less Paper in the Workplace

By: Mike Watson - Updated: 4 Jun 2019 | comments*Discuss
Use Less Paper Carbon Emissions Trees

The use of paper is one of the major factors contributing to climate change. The felling of trees in the first place directly contributes to carbon emissions as a result of machinery used both in the process and in transportation. Further to this the felling of trees, which naturally absorb carbon, means that yet more carbon will stay in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming again.

Once paper is made (involving industrial processes that consume carbon) it must then be transported, which inevitably will involve the burning of even more carbon fuel. This snowball effect makes saving and recycling paper vital if we are to tackle climate change.

Do note that recycling paper is not an ideal substitute for saving paper in the first place as recycling will entail some expenditure of carbon, and in any case paper can only be recycled so many times. It is best to use existing paper frugally and to its full potential before it reaches the recycling bin.

Paper Policy

There are a number of ways to save paper, many of whish should be apparent to anyone with a sense of practicality and a desire to save money. The problem lies in putting these notions into practice, and that requires discipline as well as the lure of more potential profit as a result of savings.

The first and most obvious thing to do is to avoid using paper wherever possible. E-mails instead of letters and computer held records instead of paper ones are a great way of saving paper, money and space, though be sure to ensure the security of your computer networks. A good computer systems company (the one that provides your computers) will be able to advise on running a ‘paperless office’.

Few offices will be truly ‘paperless’ and for that reason it is good to ensure measures to minimise paper use where possible. When making notes use smaller paper (a5 rather than a4, for example) and write as small as is possible whilst maintaining legibility, ensuring that you fill both sides of the page before using another sheet.

Do not make notes when not necessary (admit it – you often end up throwing them away without using them) or make them on a computer if practical. If there is any space left on a sheet of paper put it aside in a designated space for ‘scrap paper’, providing you are comfortable with what is written on it being seen: if you must shred paper, recycle it.

In terms of administration, do not use needless forms, they are tedious for those who fill them out and waste paper as well as time. If you do need to process forms for whatever reason make them small or simply process them digitally and without the use of paper.

Do not photocopy unless you need to. When giving presentations try and work out at a convenient time before you start how many copies of a publication will be needed, if it is needed at all – much of what you give out will end up in the recycling bin, if not the normal bin!

Please note that 'tree planting' schemes, that aim to offset emissions by the planting of young trees are no substitute to avoiding the felling of adult trees in the first place. By all means plant trees, but never do this to offset the carbon emissions (and the guilt) associated with consuming paper and carbon: Reduce carbon and plant trees!

Please note that none of these policies are particularly effective if not implemented across the business. Be sure to make the reduction of paper use part of company policy

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I have stopped using paper and disposable plastic in my house. Washable Rags instead of toilet paper, cloth napkins instead of tissues, small socks as coffee filters. I pick up plastic as I walk my dogs to use as pooper scoopers. I carry my own bags to the grocery store and do not bag loose items like tomatos, etc. I reuseThe bags around things like bread loaves. It is actually a fun game to figure out how to avoid the use of plastic and paper.
Kate - 4-Jun-19 @ 3:09 PM
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Mazana - 8-Nov-18 @ 6:34 PM
Dear friends, I think I'm a concerned native of our beautiful Earth, which is the only living planet in the Universe in today's date. I try all my best to minimize my individual carbon footprints. But at the same time I'm very much nervous to observe my colleagues' and friends' anti environmental behavior such as taking unwanted and excessive prints of documents, which later on goes in waste or scrap. I need somebody to guide me, how can I control this behavior at my work place.. Please.
Katt - 1-Jun-18 @ 9:28 AM
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