6 simple ways to reduce paper waste from your daily work life

Are you looking for ways to reduce paper usage in the office? Paper waste is a big issue in business, and if you can reduce paper waste in the workplace, you can have a positive impact on the environment. In fact, paper makes up the largest part of the un-recycled waste that offices generate. According to research conducted by Kyocera, the average office worker in the UK uses up to 45 pieces of paper per day, and a staggering two-thirds of that is considered waste. In the UK, we use over 9.9 million tonnes of paper each year, and it takes 24 trees to make just one tonne of paper.

Clearly, we need to make some changes and learn how to reduce paper usage, or better yet – learn how to go paperless.

As a digital solution, DocuSign is highly supportive of ways to save paper and initiatives that aim to create awareness and promote responsible disposal. So, we thought we’d share a few innovative ways to reduce paper waste in the workplace, which you can adopt in yours.

Here are six ways to reduce paper use:

1. Think before you print

If you are wondering how to reduce paper waste in the office, printing less is an obvious choice. Printing meeting agendas or presentations has become a habit for some of us. But if we really think about it, how often are those handouts referred to again? You’ll find that most are left in the room or thrown away.

In your next meeting, try adding the agenda to your Outlook invitation or emailing attendees your presentation in advance. Having a soft copy allows them to add notes or comments and gives them something they can refer to later. All documents can be stored and shared in the cloud. 

Being a software company, DocuSign embraces technology to help us go paperless. We have TV screens in our meeting rooms so anyone can connect their laptop and showcase presentations in large format. This is especially helpful in conference calls with staff or customers who are overseas or working from home.

2. Take paperless notes

If you’re a note-taker, there are some great online alternatives out there that enable you to work without pen and paper, and it’s a simple way to reduce paper wastage.

We like the simplicity of the functions of Evernote, the ability to use it across multiple devices, and how widely used it is. Collaborating on or sharing notes between teams is easy. If you’re looking for an app that feels more like a paper notebook, Microsoft Onenote is great. You can store your notes in ‘books’, colour code them and easily organise everything. Some of our colleagues swear by Google Keep. It’s great for use in meetings as it has the ability to create photo or voice notes. A pretty handy function, so you don’t have to type up your notes later. Apple users can take minutes using Apple Notes.

3. Use online or cloud storage for your files

Many businesses are adopting online file storage programs. We use Box and Google Drive. All have their pros and cons.

Google Drive is widely used, probably because you can store multiple formats, edit online using familiar formatting functions, and share documents or folders with your team or a single person. Plus, getting 15 GB of storage for free is pretty good too.

Box has very similar functionality to other cloud-based storage products, but it allows us to have complete control of our data. For our company, data security is critical, so we ensure our internal platforms meet our high standards. It allows us to store documents securely while reducing paper waste.

4. Hot-desking keeps our office free of cluster

Hot desking keeps our office looking 100% fire

It can be a bit of an adjustment initially, but hot desking is actually a great way to keep paper use to a minimum. It’s much harder to amass a collection of papers if you might be sitting in a different seat each day. So it’s a good idea to consider hot-desking if you want to give your team the motivation to reduce paper waste.

5. Cultural support and encouragement to save paper

It is vital to have an internal culture that reinforces the paperless message so that everyone is thinking about reducing paper waste to impact the environment positively. DocuSign is committed to helping businesses go paperless, and our office culture reflects that too. We don’t have a cupboard full of stationery. There are a few pens and highlighters in the cupboard, but we don’t make regular orders. Instead, staff make one-off requests when they need a specific item. Staff are also encouraged to positively impact the environment as part of the DocuSign for Forests initiative. Since 2003, we’ve helped hundreds of millions of people worldwide to replace over 20 billion sheets of paper with digital processes that do not require paper. Together, we have preserved over 2.5 million trees needed to make paper. Our team have also clocked thousands of volunteer hours helping organisations that protect forests and trees, like Trees for Cities. How can you encourage your teams to save paper? 

To help improve awareness of sustainability efforts for all of our customers, we’ve included an environmental impact calculator in DocuSign eSignature, our core product. This calculator is powered by the Environmental Paper Network, a nonprofit that promotes more sustainable paper consumption and production. It gives customers exact details of their work to save paper by estimating how much wood, water, waste, and carbon is saved with eSignature.

6. Keep recycling bins handy

Even if you’re a paperless office like DocuSign, there will always be paper products in need of proper disposal, and there are waste paper recycling bins accessible for this. To minimise recyclables being thrown into the garbage, we don’t have personal bins. 

We're committed to helping other companies reduce paper usage. For businesses around the globe, DocuSign is a key factor in their successful green initiatives. DocuSign eSignature enables you to access documents online and start the document signing process on virtually any internet-enabled device. It provides a healthy, sustainable, environmentally friendly alternative to paper that is cost-effective and productivity-enhancing.

To see first-hand how DocuSign enables companies to go paperless by digitising the agreement process, start a free 30-day trial.

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