Sustainable Living | 16th Sep, 2010

It's all about the paper

Every year in Australia we use the equivalent of more than 40 million trees worth of printing and writing paper. You can help your workplace do its bit for the environment with some simple changes.

Print less!

Just think of all the filing you won’t have to do if you don’t print documents that don’t need to be printed! If reading on screen isn’t your style, next time you come across a report you should read but probably wont, just print the bits you will read. For most of us that’s the executive summary – now that’s a lot of paper saved.

Buy recycled paper

Your workplace doesn’t want to contribute to deforestation. So switch to recycled paper. It can cost a bit more, but aside from the satisfaction of doing something good, you can tell your clients about it and look good too. Any recycled paper should be better than no recycled paper, but if you want really good recycled paper, these are the things to look for:

1. What percentage of it is recycled? 100 percent recycled is best

2. Is it post-consumer waste paper (paper which has been used by consumers before being recycled) or pre-consumer waste paper (made from materials which have been recovered in the paper manufacturing process). Post-consumer waste paper is better.

3. Is the paper bleached? Go for papers that don’t use chlorine bleaching. Total Chlorine Free (TCF) and Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) papers are a good option. Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) papers avoid some of the more damaging chlorine compounds but still use some chlorine.

Always print on both sides of the paper

It might sound like a small thing to do, but if you commit to always printing on both sides of the paper, you could halve the amount of paper you use. This would be good news for the climate (because of the energy which goes into producing paper), good news for the forests (if you are not using recycled paper), and good news for your paper bill. You can usually find out how to double side by exploring the ‘preferences’ or ‘options’ buttons on the box which comes up on your screen when you go to print. Get someone to program double siding in as a standard setting on your photocopier, so others double side too. If this is too difficult, go low tech and put a sticker on the machine reminding people to double side and explaining how.

Print on re-used paper

Collect up all the A4 paper that’s only been used on one side, and use it for printing drafts and other documents which can be on scrap paper. Make one of the trays of your photocopier the re-used paper tray. And then enjoy avoiding spending so much on paper in the future.