The production of paper uses trees, chemicals, energy (greenhouse gases) and water. About one-third of the garbage we throw away is paper. Let's avoid, reduce, re-use and recycle at work too!
The ecological footprint of a single newspaper was once described as taking up the area covered by all the sheets of the newspaper laid side by side, for the period of a year.
A tonne of paper consumes approximately 20 full-grown trees, over 90,000 litres of water, over 1.2 tonnes of coal and an assortment of chemicals. The greenhouse gas emissions of this tonne of paper are approximately 8 tonnes (with a tonne of recycled paper emitting approximately 2 tonnes of greenhouse gases), according to the Federal Government's Green Office Guide (PDF).
Every year, every Australian office worker uses about 10,000 sheets of A4 paper, with approximately 50 per cent of this going straight to landfill. The following ideas will enable you to more than halve this figure, saving paper, forests and money.
How to do it now!
The 21st century mantra 'Reduce, Re-use, Recycle' is especially applicable to your daily office work with paper. These steps, when combined with your company purchasing recycled paper and supporting the recycling of office paper, can result in your office cutting its paper use by more than half.
Reduce the amount you print. The most effective way to save paper is to use less. We need to work electronically and manage our printing to use the least amount possible. Here are some work practices that use less paper while also improving your productivity.
Re-use paper. Inevitably, paper will be used and will not be required any longer.
Recycle paper. Finally, when the sheet has been used on both sides, used as a doodle pad and made into a paper aeroplane, it's off to the recycler. Keep a box under your desk for recycled paper - and use it.
Establish a recycling program at work. If your office doesn't have a paper recycling program in place it's time for you to get active.
Organisations that collect your office paper for recycling (and provide recycle bins etc.).
1. Check if your local council waste collection service includes your office paper!
2. Try the Planet Arc 'Recycling Near You' site, which has a great directory of recycling services around Australia.
3. Try some of these paper recycling companies direct:
Why is this action important?
Paper is a crushed wood product made with the addition of energy, chemicals and water. In addition, many of the chemicals used in the creation of paper have detrimental effects on the environment and us. Reducing our use of wood will allow our forests to serve a more important role - collecting and storing carbon from the atmosphere and ameliorating the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the resulting climate change - not to mention the role of our forests in providing habitat and allowing biodiversity to thrive!