The Reality of the Paperless Office

A PDF- making company (no idea these eve existed) recently sent me something that caught my eye about a survey they conducted:

In this survey, three out of every four Americans say they want to reduce paper consumption for the environment, including:

·         48.0% – willing to reduce their use of newspapers

·         45.9% – willing to reduce their use of magazines

·         37.6% – willing to reduce their use of forms, contracts, documents

·         31.6% – willing to reduce their use of books

·         6.1% – willing to reduce their use of toilet paper

Essentially, Americans are willing to half their paper consumption in the next five years. That’s fantastic for the environment! That means fewer trees will be felled uselessly and fuel consumed to transport paper will be reduced too.

They compiled an info-graphic about their survey results.

How to be a Better Paper User

Eight ways to be more environmentally friendly with your paper use.

4. Print Double-Sided

Computer paper has two sides; how many are you printing on? If you have a laser printer at home, you can change the setting to double-sided printing and copying. Otherwise, consider printing documents one page at a time and printing the second page on the back of the first. It may take you more time, but you’ll also have less paper to buy.

7. Make Paper Bag Book Covers

With more cities placing restrictions on the use of plastic bags, paper bags may be your packaging of choice. Well, these bags have many reuse options to keep them out of the trash, including covering your hardcover books. This also protects your books from damage and food stains. Plus, once you’re done with the cover you can still recycle the bag with the rest of your paper.

The Greenest Cup of Office Coffee

The Green Lantern (the cute name for Slate’s enviro-advice column) answered the question of which kind of cup to use in the office. The answer isn’t as clear as you think, as always, there are many issues that need to inform your decision. In sum, use an old mug (don’t buy new ones) and wash using environmentally friendly soap.

The Lantern uses a mug for office beverages, but he’s chosen to go the scavenger route—using an old one someone left in his office. Your colleagues’ instincts are right to avoid polystyrene, but they shouldn’t buy brand-new mugs as a replacement (even the kind that come with cheeky green messages). Unless you absolutely need to drink your coffee on the go, ceramic is better than stainless steel. And when you wash, do it by hand, using phosphate-free soap and cold water. (If you want to use hot water, see if you can share washing duties throughout the office, so the water doesn’t need to be heated separately for each mug.)

What if you get your coffee at the local Starbucks on your way to work? The nationwide chain deserves credit for including 10 percent recycled content in its cups, and paper—unlike polystyrene—has the advantage of being a renewable resource. But in other ways, the wood-based venti cups are even worse than office polystyrene: They’re heavier, which means more energy used to create the cup and more waste once the cups have been crushed. Other coffee retailers are experimenting with cups made out of plant-based material, which can then be composted—a positive step, although one that raises a question of where all that extra corn will come from.

Office Building Warmed by Commuters

In Sweden a new office complex will be heated through the power of body heat. The offices will be attached, or really close, to a major train station that is already heated by the people who use it.

“We had a look at it and thought ‘We might actually be able to use this’,” said Karl Sundholm, project leader at Jernhusen, which also owns the station. “This feels good. Instead of just airing the leftover heat out we try to make use of it.”

Jernhusen markets the building as “environment smart” and aims for its energy consumption to be half of what a corresponding building usually is.

The bodily warmth from the central station will be redirected to heat up water. The investment will be around 200 000 Swedish crowns, Sundholm said.

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