Switch to Recycled Paper in Your Office
You probably have a good idea of how much printer and photocopy paper is used in your office on any given day. It’s a whole lot! According to the Environmental Defense, it takes about 24 trees to make one ton (2,000 pounds) of standard (20 pound) virgin printer and copy paper, which is 40 cartons of paper. One tree produces less than two cartons of paper. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Americans use 14 million tons of printer and copy paper a year (28 billion tons!), which equals about 93 pounds for every American. Now so much of what we do at our place of employment and home offices has to printed or photocopied. The American Bar Association states that one lawyer at a large law firm might go through two cartons of paper a year, individually, which equals more than one tree per person a year. In addition, just to produce the paper, a tremendous about of energy, waste, and pollution is generated. For one ton of virgin paper, 38 million BTUs of energy are used, 19,075 gallons of waste water produced, 2,278 pounds of solid waste created, and 5,690 pounds of greenhouse gas produced. Further, other forms of pollution and volatile organic compounds are also created in producing one ton of virgin paper. That’s really terrible.
We cannot stop using paper in the office–that would be impossible. But, there are some steps that we can take to reduce the amount of printer and copy paper we use and ultimately the amount of trees that have to be cut down. Here are some tips:
- Try speaking with the your manager and/or office supply person about switch to recycled paper instead of virgin paper. Chances are they will be receptive to the suggestion. For your home office, make the switch–you’re the boss!
- Choose a recycled paper that has the highest postconsumer content available. Even switching from using a ton of virgin paper to a ton of 30 percent postconsumer recycled paper will save seven trees. Switching to 100 percent postconsumet recycled paper will save 24 trees!
- Reduce how much printer and copy paper you use. Print only when necessary, stop printing needlessly. Print on both sides of the paper. Many printers allow for double-sided printing or you can print alternating pages (e.g., odd pages first) and then send the paper through again for rest of the pages on the backsides.
- Recycle the used paper. You don’t need to save every sheet once your finished with it. Be sure to recycle as much used paper as possible.
- If your office doesn’t have a recycling program yet, insist that they start one promptly! Offer to help implement the program.