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.
Reduce Your Paper Use
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.
- Thermal receipt paper, often used in libraries, is often coated with unbound Bisphenol-A (BPA)
- BPA is used as a developer for thermal receipt papers used every day at the point-of-sale in most retail stores and libraries.
- The chemical is “unbound” on the surface of the paper so it wipes off easily onto the hands (and onto others things it comes in contact with, like paper money in a billfold.
- BPA can be absorbed into the body directly through the skin.
- BPA is a reproductive, developmental, and systemic toxicant in animal studies and is weakly estrogenic.
- Some thermal receipt papers are advertised as “BPA-free,” which means that the paper uses a different chemical, but does not mean that the alternate is a safer chemical or less hazardous for the environment.
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.
- Offer patrons the option of receiving circulation receipts via e-mail and/or offer a receipt-free option.
- 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.
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."
BPA in thermal receipt paper
If you are an employee that handles receipts (like a waiter, cashier or librarian) or you run a business that gives out receipts, you are likely using thermal paper and it almost assuredly is coated with either BPA or its chemical cousin, Bisphenol S (BPS). All of the 18 thermal papers we tested were coated with either BPA or BPS. We now know that thermal receipt paper, used widely every day, is another way that Bisphenol A (BPA) gets into us. Studies have shown cashiers have higher levels of BPA in their body fluids than other occupations. Regular receipt handling may be of particular concern to pregnant women or women of childbearing age and adolescents of both sexes who handle receipts regularly. BPA is known to be hazardous to human, fish and other animal reproductive systems and has been linked with obesity and attention disorders. The other commonly used chemical for thermal receipts, BPS, has been shown to have some similar effects.
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.
Megan E. Dempsey, Alex Palilonis, (2012) "Reuse, recycle … reduce: a greener library with print management", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 30 Iss: 3, pp.408 - 417
The purpose of this paper is to describe the implementation of a print management system to control costs and reduce waste associated with printing practices.
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.
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.