Less Paper Equals More Green

Three ways to painlessly cut paper use

A CBS News program one Sunday not long ago dropped an interesting fact: 40 percent of all paper printed is discarded that very same day. Two of every five pages printed is glanced at and trashed. This is the wrong way to meet your office recycle quota. It's hard to wean some people from paper, but it will save you money. Here are some ideas.

Why do people print, glance, and recycle? Sometimes it's habit. For those users, try to rework the process to send PDFs of files rather than printed copies. Use e-mail or a collaboration workspace to provide the information they want in a report. If they really want to read that report on paper, make them do the printing. Say it's a green thing, so don't let them use a cheap inkjet at their desk filled with expensive ink cartridges.

Removing personal printers helps a variety of issues, such as support, supplies cost, and desk space. It sounds amazing, but some people who print constantly to their personal printer will read information onscreen rather than walk 10 steps to a workgroup printer. Leverage that laziness to save paper.

Sometimes it's vision issues. Many users have trouble seeing text as well onscreen as when the same information is on paper. As eyes age, lower contrast gets tougher to read. Crisp black on clean white provides almost the best contrast (black on yellow has the highest contrast values) for those with weaker eyes, especially in lower light levels.

Do an informal check to see if the bigger paper wasters wear reading glasses (I can say this, because I have to wear them). When you find those people, check out their computer monitors. If they still use older CRTs, improve the contrast. If their screens are small, buy newer, larger LCD screens for them. Although I dislike Microsoft Vista for many reasons, the LCD screen enhancements they added really do make letters sharper. Let's hope Microsoft keeps and maybe improves that technology in Windows 7.

If these users have laptops with LCD screens, they may be having trouble with the small screen size. Buy them an external LCD that's a bit bigger and see if that helps.

Think buying new monitors is overkill to save a little paper? Check your paper bills before you say that. You buy a better monitor once. You buy paper constantly.

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