A famous quote, an inspirational story, or a political speech available on the Internet can tempt even a savvy keeper of the green into wasting paper. Such immediate access to information lends itself easily toward information hoarding that can be detrimental to the space on your computer, or the space in your desk drawers and file cabinets. A year filled with informational papers not only decreases the organization of your mind space and your office space, but it is completely damaging to the environment.
In a study done in 2002, UC Berkeley’s School of Information Management and Systems reports that information stored on paper increased by 43 percent from 1999 to 2002. Ideally, electronic storage would allow the average office to go paperless. Even if you don’t work in an office, you might find that you are more apt to print things based on the ease of getting them. Be mindful of your paper waste, and you can save a few trees, some printer ink, storage space, and a little bit of sanity.
Save it First
Before you print a book, an image, or an office anecdote; save it to a file on your computer. Information hoarding is sometimes heightened by a fear that you will lose information. The vulnerability of technology to collapse feeds into that fear. But saving something before printing it will force you to determine whether you really need to have a full copy of it.
Some information seems worthy of sharing. For that reason, especially in a closely knit office setting, people love printing things and putting them on desks. Rather than printing anything, simply email it. In fact, you might want to add a little tag line at the end of your emails that says something such as, “If you like this (story, information), please save it to your computer to save paper.”
When you do organize all those papers in your drawers and files, you might find you’ve printed a little too much information. That’s okay for now, because you might be able to reuse that paper for other pieces of information that must be printed. Office managers might initiate informal office meetings with agendas printed on the back of previous agendas.
It is important for family members, managers and other leaders to let groups of people who use printers know what the rules say about printing. Managers in small offices can use friendly encouragement to their staff about the overuse of printing. “We want to save money for important office equipment as well as for your bonuses, so please do all you can to minimize the need to print. Save information to your computer files and organize them regularly before deciding to print something.” Many offices implement fraud, waste, and abuse policies that encourage employees to be thrifty with the office resources. Furthermore, having a clear description (perhaps in an office memo), of what the company permits to be printed and what is considered “waste,” helps employees to know exactly what they can and cannot print.