Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Some Paper Facts
- The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
- The United States alone, which has less than 5% of the world's population, consumes 30% of the world's paper.
- Over 40% of wood pulp goes toward the production of paper.
- Printing and writing paper equals about one-half of U.S. paper production.
- The costs of using paper in the office can run 13 to 31 times the cost of purchasing the paper in the first place.
- Paper has a heavy environmental cost.
- It takes more than 1½ cups of water to make one sheet of paper. That's nearly 47 gallons of water per ream of paper.
- Over 40% of wood pulp goes toward the production of paper.
- Reducing paper use reduces greenhouse gases: 40 reams of paper is like 1.5 acres of pine forest absorbing carbon for a year.
Rethink Your Paper Use
Citigroup determined that if each employee used double-sided copying to conserve just one sheet of paper each week, the firm would save $700,000 each year Bank of America cut its paper consumption by 25% in two years by increasing the use of on-line forms and reports, e-mail, double-sided copying, and lighter-weight paper
- Print only when necessary
- Preview documents before printing. Use the print preview to spot formatting errors and blank pages before you print. Proofread first, and use the spell/grammar tool to help avoid errors that can cause documents to be reprinted.
- Print only the pages you need. If only a few pages of the document are needed, print only those pages instead of the whole report. Most software programs provide this option under the print function.
- Promote a "think before you copy" attitude. Consider sharing some documents with co-workers. Print only the number of copies needed for the meeting, don't make extras.
- Go electronic
- Route memos and newsletters that employees should see, but do not need to keep. That way newsletters and other documents can be shared rather than copied.
- Use revision features in word processing software. You can edit documents on screen instead of printing out drafts and making hand-written comments.
- Send information electronically. Use e-mails instead of fax or mailed letters when possible. It's faster.
- Fit more words onto each page (e.g., smaller font, narrower margins). Simply changing the default margins from 1.25" to 1" can reduce the amount of paper you use by up to 8%. Use a space-efficient font like Times New Roman.
- Create an electronic filing system for quick, easy retrieval.
- Keep forms and lists updated
- Reduce unwanted mail. Much of the marketing mail that your office receives is discarded immediately, and you foot the bill for recycling or disposal, not to mention the time it takes to sort and deliver mail. Cut down on the amount of unwanted mail by keeping your employees' names off of mail lists to begin with.
- Eliminate unnecessary forms. Sometimes documents become obsolete and are no longer needed. If forms are still needed consider making them electronic.
- Use fax post-its rather than a cover sheet
- Duplex instead of printing on one side
- Use the back side of single sheets as scratch paper
- Close the recycling loop
- Buy recycled-content paper, preferably made from paper pulp recycled without the use of chlorine and with post-consumer recycled content or 30% or higher.
- Start an office paper recycling program if you don't already have one
Information courtesy of Become a Paper-less Office.
For More Information
Become a Paper-less Office
Despite your forest of filing cabinets, are you able to find that report you need for your meeting in 5 minutes? Take steps to reduce your consumption of paper and increase efficiency at work to save time, money, and resources. And it's "3 E-asy."
Environmental Paper Network
Cooperative effort of several environmental organizations to improve environmental practices in the pulp & paper industry. Web site's resource list includes a guide to purchasing environmentally friendly paper.
Shows the environmental impacts of different papers across their full life cycle. Useful for quantifying the benefits of better paper choices.
Recovered Office Paper:Opening the Door to Climate Protection,Green Jobs, and a Sustainable Paper Industry
This how-to guide not only compiles the basic steps of setting up a successful paper recycling program but also covers other topics that today’s office and building managers encounter, while explaining how organizations fit into the overall system of recycled paper manufacturing.
Recycling @ Work
Recycling at Work is a voluntary national effort to increase recycling in the workplace. Please join the other businesses and organizations around the country that stepped up and took the pledge to increase workplace recycling. Recycling at Work offers a 10-step action plan, discounts on recycling bins and other valuable tools to start and expand your workplace recycling program.
Reduce/Eliminate Paper Towel Use by Installing Electric Hand Dryers
Most businesses and public facilities use paper towels for hand drying in restrooms. Any business seeking to make operations more sustainable should consider installing electric hand dryers instead of paper towel dispensers. New technology encourages use of energy efficient hand dryers. Switching to hand dryers will reduce solid waste as well as labor costs related to cleaning and maintaining the area and, despite a slight increase in energy use, will indirectly help reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to paper towel production and any adverse environmental impact associated with excess emissions.
Excellent information about paper recycling.
Sustainable Procurement of Wood and Paper-Based Products: Version 2
This WRI/WBCSD publication is an information and decision-making tool to help customers develop their own sustainable procurement policies for wood and paper-based products. It also has information on existing approaches to procurement from legal and sustainable sources.
What's In Your Paper
Encourages sustainable paper purchasing.