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Going Green At the Office

As concern over global warning increases, businesses are under pressure to reduce their impact on the environment and go green. While it is easy for a factory to identify how they can reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, what about the average office? One simple solution is to remember the three R's, reduce, reuse and recycle.

The biggest output from any office is waste paper. It is estimated that the average office worker produces 1.5 pounds of paper per day. And despite the promise of a paperless office, the sales of office paper continue to climb. While some paperwork must be stored for record retention guidelines, most of this paper ends up in the trash.

To go green, Every office can work on reducing the amount of paper they throw away. Some simple changes can make a big impact. Keep just one network printer in a central location and it will reduce the number of unnecessary print outs. Eliminating printers in every office not only reduces paper consumption but eliminates maintenance costs.

You should also try to make all intra-office communication electronic where possible. Don't just look at memos but any process that requires a piece of paper being printed.

Why not reuse all of the paper that does not contain sensitive or personal information. The unprinted backs make great scratch pads for the conference room. Just set a box next to the printer to collect all the bad copies. You can also create memo pads by cutting the sheets in four and stapling them together.

Even after you have taken steps to reduce paperwork and re-used where possible a certain amount of wasted paper work is inevitable. This includes junk mail, envelopes, retired files and day to day work.

Although most businesses are interested in recycling there are some complications. Several privacy laws govern the proper disposal of private information. The principal of these is the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, FACTA. It requires shredding for anything that contains personally identifiable information.

FACTA has led many offices to buy a shredder and then dump the contents in the trash. An easier solution to combine security with recycling is a paper shredding service. A shredding service will not only recycle all the paper an office produces but they will shred it in compliance with privacy laws.

The hidden benefit is the office saves the expense of buying inefficient desk side shredders. These cheap shredders are not only slow but end up in the trash when they inevitably seize up.

And don't forget to buy recycled office paper. Purchasing 100% post-consumer office paper lightens your carbon footprint by 5 pounds of carbon dioxide per ream. It also causes 35% less water pollution, uses 40% less energy, and produces 74% less air pollution according to the EPA.

About the author 

To find a paper shredding service in your are visit Shred Nations. Steven Hastert has worked in the recycling and shredding industry for the past decade. He specializes in privacy law compliance for small businesses