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Eco-Friendly Office Organizing

As Published In Smead Organomics
Eco-Friendly Office Organizing

Publicity -- Smead Organomics

As “eco-friendly” takes over as a hot business organizing watchword, companies are scrambling to make their processes (from mass production to the purchase of toner cartridges to the disposal of wastepaper) less polluting and kinder to the environment. But these changes aren’t just for corporate level enterprises — there’s no reason not to “green up” your own office as an individual entrepreneur or employee.

Buy Recycled Supplies

The manufacture of office supplies is a highly resource-intensive one. Hanging files, manila folders, printer paper, envelopes, sticky notes, business cards — they all require the chopping down of trees and destruction of forests. But when you buy these products recycled, they require about half the pulpwood — a ton of “virgin” office paper uses 24 trees, while a recycled ton only uses 12 trees.

Another big issue is the ink with which you print. Over 350 million toner cartridges are added to landfills every year, with each cartridge creating three-and-a-half pounds of solid waste that can take between 450 and 1,000 years to decompose — but choosing to refill rather than replace eliminates this problem.

Go Easy On the Printer

The computer is a wonderful tool for reducing wastepaper — as long as you can resist the urge to hit the “print” button every 30 seconds! How many unnecessary pages do you crank out every day? Multiple rough drafts of the same document, e-mails you could read just as easily online, documents requiring correction that could have been made electronically — do you have a specific reason for needing a hard copy of that item? If the answer is “no,” don’t print it!

If the answer is “yes,” ask yourself whether a fresh piece of paper is required — or would the back of an already-printed sheet suffice? For rough drafts and mark-ups, flipping another page over and using the clean side should be entirely acceptable. Just draw a big “X” on the already-printed side and make sure to load your paper tray correctly. You might say, “I don’t need to do that because I recycle.” Why do they have to be mutually exclusive? Recycling still requires a pretty hefty expenditure of energy and resources — that’s why the first two steps before “recycle” are “reduce” and “reuse.”

Use Everything At Least Twice

That leads me to another bad habit we’ve developed regarding office supplies — throwing an item in the trash or recycle bin after a single use. We’ve become a ridiculously “disposable” society — spoiled by inexpensive manufacturing techniques and an overabundance of consumable goods. But we’re paying the price — using up our natural resources faster than they can be replenished, and polluting our environment with our wastefulness. However, you can make your office supplies last longer with just a little forethought.

For example, how many file folders do you pitch each year because you no longer need that category of information? What happened to re-labeling? If you choose hanging files instead of manila folders, you can more easily swap out tabs when the contents change — or get in the habit of using removable stick-on labels instead of writing directly on the file. (Remember that manila folders can also be turned inside out.) All it takes is a simple shift in the way we view our work processes to save the planet!

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Copyright 2001 RamonaCreel.com

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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