Think before you print

Did you know that the average office uses two times more paper today than in 1980, the golden age of copiers and the birth of the fax machine?

That’s because the amount of information and data to be printed just keeps growing–as does our obsessively compulsive habit of printing everything we see on our screen. Find a good article online, print it, and read it later. Got a note from an employee? Print it and read it later. Interesting piece of news? Print and read. We’re like lab rats (keyboard shortcut, enter and boom) when it comes to printing the screen. Web designers and software companies aren’t thoughtful of conserving paper either. Airline confirmations are often six pages long and all you really need is the first page with the locater, itinerary, and charges. The maps we print always have an extra page with about one inch of useless text. Moreover, few of use partially or fully recycled paper.

All this printing is not good for the future. Virgin paper demands drive clear cutting from Alaska to Amazonia. Trees create oxygen. Deforestation disrupts atmospheric balance and is a major part of the global warming megatrend that our children and grandchildren will have to deal with if we don’t. Every page we print makes a difference in the interdependent world we live in. Putting your overprinting in a recycle bin is a good start, but only a fraction of the bin will actually convert into usable paper down the road (and recycling requires electricity, much of which is produced by fossil fuels).
As a writer, I have to do a great deal of line editing by hand. I can’t get around it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t apply some problem solving into reducing my footprint of consumption.

Recommended Actions:
1. Think before you print. Make each print job beg for its life (like a good editor makes every word beg
for its life.)
2. Use recycled paper when possible. 100 percent recycled paper can be both too thin and too expensive, so try out the 30 percent mix instead.
3. Reuse old pages. Believe it or not, only a small percentage of the paper you place in the recycle bin actually makes it into someone else’s printer later. So take dead pages, draw a diagonal line through them, turn them over and use them again! (For internal use only, of course.)
4. Post a sign at your office, “Think Before You Print!” You’d be surprised at how much conversatio (and conservation) will ensue. To encourage you, I’m offering a $20.00 Amazon gift certificate to the first person who posts a picture of this sign at their office in the comments to this post. And, I will give an IPOD shuffle (fully loaded with songs) to the best story posted in comments about how this sign worked over a week or a month. Please send this email to friends who might like to play in this promotion. Please bookmark this post to check on progress. And please, it’s time for you to help us all save the world at work!