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How Leading Businesses are Reducing Their Dependence on Paper

When you look at the most pervasive problems in business, the topic of sustainability must be near the top of the list. While many businesses preach sustainability, very few are actually doing what it takes to reduce their impact in one key area: paper.

Five Tips for Reducing Your Dependence on Paper

Today's leading businesses are finally taking action. Surprising to some, it's becoming clear that reducing dependence on paper isn't as complex or costly as previously thought.

Here are some tips they would give other businesses to follow suit:

1. Use Digital Tools and Software

One of the great things about the growing popularity and pervasiveness of valuable digital tools and software is that they reduce the need for paper files and documents.

Whether it's accounting, payroll, sales, marketing, HR, or anything in between, there are now mobile tools available that allow businesses to organize information in a central platform. This eliminates the need for scattered documents and physical files, which has traditionally accounted for so much of the average organization's paper use.

2. Recycle Paper

Research shows that the average office worker uses an incredible 10,000 sheets of copy paper every single year. Making this problem worse is the fact that 45 percent of paper printed in offices ends up in trashcans by the end of the same day!

While the root issue obviously has to do with an overdependence on paper, one simple way businesses can become more sustainable is by recycling more of the paper they use. If you don't have a recycling initiative in place – or don't advocate well enough for it – then you're missing a major opportunity to reduce your footprint.

3. Put Limits on Printing and Copying

One of the simplest ways to reduce your dependence on paper is to actually put limits on the number of prints and copies individuals and departments are able to use for a given week, month, or quarter.

When you put limits on printing and copying, you make employees actively think about whether or not the document they're producing is actually necessary. What you'll find is that most people actually come in well below their designated limit. 

4. Make All Billing Digital

How do you currently receive billing? With all of the technology available at your disposal, there's no excuse for not making your billing digital. This may seem like a small thing, but it begins to create a culture where sustainability is valued. Not only are you telling your organization that it's important to go paperless, but you're also spreading the message to clients and vendors you work with.

5. Educate and Incentivize Employees

Many businesses go about reducing their dependence on paper in the wrong way. They simply instigate new rules and expect people to follow along. Unfortunately, this isn't a long-term strategy. If you want employees to willingly participate, you must explain the reasons and goals behind the shift.

In addition to educating employees, you can launch a new paperless initiative by rewarding and incentivizing employees to participate. There are plenty of ways to do so and these actions will prove your commitment to the issue.

It's Time to Do Your Part

It's irresponsible to sit on the sidelines any longer. You've heard about the need for reducing your dependence on paper for decades and it's time to follow the lead of larger organizations and make sustainability a priority in your own organization.

The good news is that it only takes a few simple steps to get pointed in the right direction. By gradually instigating new policies and doing away with wasteful habits, you can begin to reduce your impact on the environment and pave the way for a more environmentally friendly future.