Part of the appeal of becoming an entrepreneur is the potential to make an impact on the community. Through philanthropy, volunteer efforts, donations and fundraisers, the concept of corporate social responsibility grew out of a desire to compel large companies to do right by society.
One of the most important and emphasized CSR efforts today is environmental protection, and many of today’s business pioneers find it essential in how they do business. The evolution of business leadership means that saving the earth is both an accepted role as well a necessity to profit-driven companies.
Document imaging is one business aspect that could benefit from an eco-friendly standpoint. From energy-sucking copiers, toxic (and expensive!) printing inks, and the piles of paperwork we’ve become accustomed to, document imaging can be a huge waste of precious resources. Striving for sustainability should be a top priority when analyzing company workflows and operations. Fortunately, there are steps you can take today to shrink your company’s carbon footprint while simultaneously saving money.
1. Print Double-Sided
One easy way to cut your paper usage in half: print double-sided. This reduces the amount of pages you need to buy, but it’s only a single aspect of the environmental benefit. Americans consume the most amount of paper per capita—more than 500 pounds annually—than anywhere else in the world. The average American office worker uses an astounding 10,000 sheets of paper each year. Printing double-sided not only saves trees, but could save your company a surprising amount of money as well. In fact, Citigroup, the world’s leading financial services company, stated that if each employee printed one double-sided document once a week (only saving one piece of paper a week), the company would save $700,000 a year!
A little certainly does go a long way when it comes to printing. A simple settings change in your printer can end up with big savings at the end of the year. To switch to double-sided printing, change the default settings on your office computers. You can also preset your copiers to duplicate on both sides for manual copying jobs.
2. Grayscale Printing and Economy Mode
Grayscale printing offers an environmentally friendly solution for offices who print hundreds of documents with vibrant coloring and graphics. Grayscale printing uses black ink cartridges instead of colored ones, which minimizes both cost and your office’s carbon footprint. Additionally, most printers have an economy mode feature which uses less ink and is perfect for documents that don’t need a perfect finish.
3. Implement a Paperless Process
When it comes to being green, a helpful way is being able to become as paperless as possible. The U.S. generates more than 9,000 tons of paper a year with a 126% increase in paper production in the last 20 years. Whether it is an important document or a report, you can scan the item and then distribute them electronically for employees to see. Having all their documents on their computers may also save your employees time from sifting through piles of papers on desks or misplacing important information. If it is not necessary to keep paper documents, this concept can save the company money from buying paper and is also more efficient and sustainable.
4. Recycle Toner Cartridges
In many ways, society is accustomed to disposable items. The sheer number of paper coffee cups that end up in curbside trash containers demonstrates that not everyone makes environmentally responsible decisions. And, when it comes to inkjet toner cartridges, it is hard to overstate the environmental devastation that comes from throwing them in the garbage. A laser cartridge takes 450 years to decompose in a landfill, with some components sticking around for a millennium.
You can ease this burden on the planet by using only recycled cartridges and recycling your own cartridges once they are empty. Finding a waste management outlet for this task is relatively simple, since many suppliers already have a program in place. In some municipalities, these items may even be banned from the garbage.
5. Centralize, Refurbished Printers
Some traditional workstation have their own printer, but those individualized machines use resources like toner highly inefficiently. You can reduce your energy use and your toner spend through an investment in a centralized multifunction copier that’s refurbished. These machines put all document management functions in one place: copying, printing, scanning, and faxing. Since all documents are printed in one place, you can identify inefficiencies in your paper usage without having to scrutinize the working habits of each individual employee. The fact that this equipment is refurbished means discounted prices and saving your landfill from another printer.
6. Reduce Power Consumption
Phantom energy is energy consumed by your device/appliances that turned off, but that are still plugged in. According to the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, “Phantom energy can account for 15% or more of the total electricity used by these gadgets.” Because of idle time during day and night, some printers use more energy when in standby mode than when they are in use. Taking the small step to unplug your printer, and other office appliances is an easy way to decrease energy consumption and lessen your office’s carbon footprint.
7. Use Electronic Storage
Never lose documents again when you introduce electronic storage to your business. 7% of paper documents are either lost, remade, or put into the wrong file. With lost paper documents, employers spend half their time looking for those same documents. Electronically storing documents makes it easier for others to find the exact record they are looking for and creating a “cloud” for certain documents saves time, money, and storage space.
8. Educate Staff Members
The ideas may be tremendous, but putting it into practice may be a challenge. Even if your employees share your commitment to sustainability, implementing a new program always means changes to working habits. It may be to your benefit to distribute a list of specific, actionable ways they can reduce their environmental impact.
If it seems your team still struggles to make the connection between choices at work and saving the planet, enlist some help. Office1 has tools to help instruct employers on how to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
Today's business leaders know their initiatives must do more than produce a healthy bottom line. They must also demonstrate stewardship to the earth and kindness to local communities. With tools in place to reduce carbon footprints in the office, it is easier than ever for entrepreneurs to meet their moral obligations to society.