Recently Environmental Leader hit a nerve with a post about “paperless messaging”. The article focused on the Environmental Paper Network’s (EPN) tips for ensuring your company uses “green” marketing messages about paper reductions that are accurate, not deceptive.
It wasn’t long before some concerns about this message emerged. In a follow up piece, writer Jennifer Hermes discussed these hot button topics, including her assertion that companies must acknowledge electronic communications also have environmental impacts and when they use messaging about how much paper was saved or how much waste was reduced by “going paperless,” it should be clearly noted that the benefits cited are based solely on paper savings.
Some readers felt that her suggestion did not go nearly far enough and people in the forest products industry shared their concerns. One commented that a claim about how many trees were not cut down to make the paper for billing statements is incomplete, because it “fails to acknowledge how many trees were planted, cared for and grew to maturity BECAUSE the forest products industry manages forests.”
To be fair, reducing paper may have unseen consequences, but we still believe that reducing consumption of any natural resource, overall, is going to be a smarter choice than consumption. So, we recognize the forest products industry and its efforts at sustainable forest management and we recognize that paper is important – in books, notebooks, posters, and other office applications. But, we still believe that we can use wood products to create goods with a longer useable life and that reducing office paper use is a smart environmental and business choice.
If you are looking for more ways to limit paper use and go green, we have come up with some tips about the best ways to utilize paper because electronic communication isn’t always an option. The biggest take away? Don’t print as much (no big surprise there) and buy recycled paper, which uses 75% less water when produced. While the cost of recycled paper is higher up front, if you are purchasing it while reducing your paper usage it doesn’t have to be a cost prohibitive change.
Making a transition to using less paper doesn’t happen over night. Here are some ideas for getting your employees on board:
• Help them see how much paper they used in the last measurable period
• Make sure department managers have a monthly paper budget, this is likely to help your team learn to ration over time.
• Set a reduction goal for each department
• Reward employee efforts for reducing their printing and working to keep costs down.
Remember, the best way to make a change is to communicate, collect data, create a plan with goals and measure your team’s success! You can go green and save some green too.