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Save a tree in five easy steps

Monday, August 10, 2009

We may be years away from a truly paperless office, so the least we can do is be smarter about how we use (or rather, abuse) the mountain of paper memos, invoices and reports.

Xerox Corp. -- one of the world's largest suppliers of papers for office printers and copiers -- says office workers throw away 45 percent of documents within 24 hours of printing them. So isn't there a more environmentally respectful way to handle this problem? Xerox has put together some suggestions. The following are five simple tips for smart paper use:

  • Use both sides of the paper It's often referred to as "duplex printing," and it is the single best way to reduce paper use. Therefore, choose copiers, digital printers and multifunction devices that can print on both sides of the paper, and add duplex as your "default" mode.
  • Go digital While computers and monitors can also consume energy, save on postage by sending electronic files, and let your recipient decide whether to print them. Replace paper files with electronic ones using the scan-to-file option on all-in-one multifunction devices.
  • Be selective Print only what you need, and only when you need it. For example, print only the portion of the report you need (e.g. page 1) and not every page out of a 10-page PDF. Preview your print to avoid printing pages with boilerplate. Print on demand. Don't stockpile forms, letterheads or instructions that will go out of date.
  • Reach for the right paper Some papers are better to the environment than others, says Xerox. The company recommends its high yield business paper, which is produced using half the number of trees compared to conventional paper. Print on papers certified through global organizations, such as the Forest Stewardship Council or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, both of which have strict international standards for sustainable forestry. Or use paper with recycled content.
  • Recycle Don't toss paper in the trash can. Collect used paper so the fiber can be used again. Recycling the fiber saves trees, reduces energy and water use, requires fewer chemicals and keeps paper out of landfills.

"It may be a surprise that Xerox is concerned about excessive paper use. After all, we're in the business of putting marks on pages," said Wim Appelo, president, Xerox Strategic Services, which manages Xerox's paper business as well as its company-wide environmental programs. "But the hallmark of our business has always been operating in an environmentally responsible way.”

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