Reducing the Use of Items in the Workplace
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Reduce paper waste
average office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of paper each year,
according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Your business can reduce
paper waste by following these tips.
- Purchase or lease copiers and printers with 2-sided capacity.
Set the default to double-sided copying/printing. Require
double-sided printing for multi-page documents.
- Use software that allows you to fax directly from your computer,
- Eliminate duplicate mailings and subscriptions. Send mailing
labels back to the sender and request that only one address remain.
Circulate the single copy among staff.
- Remove your staff members and company from junk mail lists.
- Keep your own mailing lists current. "Suppress duplicates" in
- Identify and eliminate unnecessary forms and redesign forms to
use less space or print double-sided. Have forms available on your
computer or posted on your Web site to be printed as needed.
- Eliminate fax cover sheets by using "sticky" fax notes.
- Proof documents on your computer rather than printing them.
- Order supplies by e-mail or voice-mail rather than fax or mail.
- Send e-mails and establish e-bulletin boards to communicate
among staff, rather than writing paper memos.
- Reduce the size or frequency of reports, or distribute them
electronically for on-screen viewing.
- Design marketing materials that require no envelope -- simply
fold and mail.
- Use continuous-circulation envelopes within your business.
- Instead of making duplicate copies of reports, memos,
newsletters and other documents, print one copy and circulate it
around the office. Or, post the information on an office intranet
- For new software, order only the number of manuals needed and
encourage employees to share. Do the same with phone books, or
arrange for an online phone book.
Hold "green" meetings
the agenda and documents to all participants before the meeting.
Those who feel they need to have paper copy at the meeting can print
the documents and bring them along.
- Don’t print out an agenda, use a white or blackboard instead.
- Discourage circulating paper copies at the meeting. If possible,
use a projector to review documents and presentations. If this is
not possible, duplex print (double-sided) only enough copies to
- Appoint a person to take notes and e-mail the notes to
participants. Using a laptop for this task makes it easy!
- Ask guest speakers or moderators to comply with your paperless
- Don’t use disposable paper cups, supply reusable cups or request
that people bring their own.
- For more "green meeting" tips, visit this
EPA Web site.
Reduce landscape waste
debris makes up a large percentage of waste produced in Thurston County.
Follow these tips to reduce waste, and make sure yard debris is recycled
into valuable mulch and compost.
- Replace all or part of turf areas with plantings
native to the Pacific
Northwest. Native plants reduce fertilizer, herbicide,
maintenance and water needs.
- Anticipate how large plants will grow when they mature, and
plant them in the appropriate-sized places. Otherwise, the plants
will have to be sheared frequently.
- Compost landscape waste at the
Waste and Recovery
Center or contact your garbage and recycle hauler to sign
up for compost
- Use recycled-content construction and landscaping materials.
Examples include plastic lumber, edging, tree guards, irrigation
equipment and paving.
Select products with the least packaging and/or which have easily
- Work with vendors to minimize product packaging. Eliminate inner-pack
dividers in shipping containers for miscellaneous supplies. Ask vendors
to take back used or damaged products for reuse and recycling (choose
vendors that offer these services).
- Require deliveries to be shipped in returnable containers (e.g.
- Purchase reusable items instead of disposables. Examples include
mugs, silverware, dishes, cloth towels and rags, rechargeable batteries,
refillable pens, erasable wall calendars, and reusable coffee filters.
- If you must buy disposable food service items, buy biodegradable
products or paper, rather than plastic or Styrofoam.
- Buy products in bulk or in concentrated form. Also choose items that
are durable, repairable, and/or recyclable. Make sure to order only what
- In the lunch/break room, use refillable or regular containers of
sugar, salt, pepper and condiments to avoid individual condiment
- Centralize purchasing to eliminate unnecessary purchases and enforce
all waste-reduction policies.
- Use less toxic products for cleaning, inks and paints.
- Purchase used office products on
with vendors and Thurston County’s
to sell and buy excess, unneeded, off-spec, or expired stock.
- Purchase products with longer shelf lives.
- Track time-sensitive materials and use a "first-in-first-out"
- Control access to office supplies and raw materials to reduce
- Maintain proper storage conditions to reduce material
degradation (e.g. temperature, humidity).
Package products carefully
- Design products with reusable or recyclable components.
unneeded packaging (e.g. use rubber bands or paper strips to divide
large quantities of brochures, rather than shrink-wrap).
- Use lightweight, recyclable or reusable packaging.
- Print messages on your products that encourage consumers to
reuse or recycle the packaging/product.
Email Greg Gachowsky