Everyone wastes resources sometimes. You don't always realize it when you're printing out the wrong document or making too many copies. Maybe you unconsciously grab extra napkins, plasticware or paper towels from the break room. But it's important to put on the brakes sometimes and remember that every resource is a cost to the company, and keeping costs low helps the company stay profitable.
In the Break Room
How many times have you grabbed a handful of napkins or coffee sweetener in the break room? What about filling a paper cup with water, guzzling it down and pitching it in the trash? You may do these things mindlessly sometimes because you're more focused on the job that's waiting for you back at the desk. However, if you multiply your waste by the number of heads in the company, this amounts to a large expense. Try bringing a reusable water bottle to work to fill in the break room, and pay attention to how many paper products you're using. If you can use a real spoon and coffee mug, that saves the company from re-buying disposable cups and stirrers. According to The Simple Dollar, a household would save from $55 to almost $90 per year by using kitchen rags instead of paper towels. Can you imagine how much an entire office would save?
At the Copier
Sometimes you go to copy a document and, 50 pages later, you realize half the words are cut off. This means tossing a whole stack of papers in the recycling bin and starting over. Avoid this by printing one test copy first and then proceeding with the large batch. That way you'll waste 50 times less paper and save the company a ton of cash in the long run. "CalRecycle" also suggests to create a double-sided policy to save paper in the office. Set your computer to print double-sided pages, cutting your paper consumption in half.
Meetings and Correspondence
Use email wherever possible. Every employee usually has an email address, and if you send out a memo digitally rather than placing a hard copy in every mailbox, it helps you save a load of paper. Remember: It's not just the paper that's wasted. It's toner, electricity, copy machine maintenance and ink. A click of a button can send an emailed announcement to 100 people and save a load of resources. The same is true for webinar meetings and digital interfaces like Skype. If you can save mileage and fuel by meeting over the Web rather than in person, your company is spared the reimbursements for those travel resources.
Recycling paper and paper products, along with cans and bottles, can help you contribute to a smaller carbon footprint at work. If you recycle at home, you know how much you can cut down on landfill garbage by separating out aluminum, newspaper and paper cartons. Just imagine how much could be saved from a company or office just by recycling fliers, memos, mail, cans and bottles. If your company doesn't currently recycle, speak to your office manager about implementing a recycling program or even a contest among divisions.
Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.