Waste is a symptom of an inefficient process. Preventing waste increases efficiency. Increasing efficiency increases profits. Theoretically speaking, it is better to prevent the generation of waste than it is to recycle. You can only recycle waste that you have failed to prevent. So, place your emphasis on reducing waste if you can, then recycle the waste that you must generate.

– Adjust your print settings to print on both sides by default.

– Print in grayscale when possible

– Make computer files, not paper files when possible. If you have not explored computer alternatives to paper in a couple years, then you really have a lot of catching up to do. Numerous free or inexpensive software programs, such as Stickies or NoteWhen can reduce or eliminate the need for sticky notes and note pads.

– Recent advances in computer software make it easy to create documents that are encrypted, password protected, and safe from either unauthorized access or alteration. Backups can also be transferred over secure internet connections for off-site storage.

– Reuse envelopes and send them through the mail again whenever possible. We understand that business do not like to send some types of mail in used envelopes for reasons of corporate image. However, many businesses conduct a fair amount of mailing of types where corporate image in not a factor. For this type of mailing, use labels to cover the old address on used envelopes. Some companies sell reuse labels for envelopes, which have a discrete message at the bottom explaining that this envelope was reused to save trees.

– Have each staff persons set aside paper that they use on only one side, so that it can be reused for printing drafts in your printer, or glued together to make scratch pads. As staff accumulate paper, they can transfer it to a centrally located storage box, possibly next to a printer or photocopiers.

– Use padding compound, the glue that holds paper together in tablets, to make scratch pads form your paper that was used only on one side. Padding compound is available from many office supply stores.

– Buy “recycled” toner cartridges, and send your spent toner cartridges to be “recycled”. Commercially, this is referred to as recycling, but it is actually a form of reuse.

– Encourage staff to use reusable coffee mugs when they pick up coffee in the morning on their way into the office. Hang a mug reuse poster in your break room.
– Invest in rechargeable batteries and battery chargers for digital cameras, flashlights, and other small devices. If your staff can be trusted to not accidentally throw away or lose the rechargeable batteries, in the long run it would be cheaper and better for the environment.

– Recycle glass, plastic, metal cans, white paper, and mixed paper and organics as you do at home.

– To start a recycling program, determine which material you want to recycle, find someone to pick up the material, put recycling bins around your office, and get staff to participate. That is “all” there is to it. Having commitment from your management to encourage staff will help.

– Reduce Packaging. Select products from suppliers and manufactures that use minimal packaging. If you buy paper by the case, buy paper that is not packaged in individual reams. If you buy cleaning agents by the case, buy those that do not have cardboard dividers between the bottles. Look for similar waste reduction opportunities in all your purchasing. If you work for company large enough to make a difference, tell the manufactures that your selections are based on the amount of packaging that they use.

– Reuse packing material whenever possible, and look for ways to reduce its use when you send products to customers.