Tip #1: Print on Both Sides


Near each printer, create a stack of scrap paper that has only been printed on one side, and use that paper to print nonessential documents.

Estimates show that the American paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among U.S. manufacturing industries,   Moreover, the creation of the paper produces a large amount of dioxins and other cancer-causing chemicals that are released into our air and water.  (A recent study showed that nearly 40% of American streams and rivers are too polluted for fishing and swimming.)  Much of that paper comes from forests that are not sustainably managed — that is to say, they aren’t cared for in such a way that the local ecosystem will survive over time.  And even though paper recycling rates are increasingly slowly, recycling is not a perfectly benign process: the paper still has to be shipped first to you and then to the recycling plant (possibly to China, where much of America’s recycling material gets reprocessed), and that recycling still consumes a fair amount of energy.  (For more on paper’s effects on the environment, see articles here and here

One of the best ways to save paper is to use sheets that have already been printed on one side and print on their blank sides.  Some people don’t like this — they feel that the sheet is cluttered, or feel that it’s too difficult to do.  But frankly, once you start, you’ll quickly find that it becomes easy and simple, and it’ll become a habit you’ll wonder why you never developed before.

And you’ll save money.  Artistic Director PJ Paparelli of Chicago’s American Theater Company estimates that his organization has cut paper purchasing costs nearly in half by using this technique.

Other ideas for saving paper:

  • Print two pages per sheet
  • When possible, read scripts online rather than printing them
  • Adjust your margins so that more text is printed per sheet
  • Ensure that nonessential pages, such as cover sheets and web page extras, aren’t printed  (Greenprint)
  • Don’t throw paper away: make sure it goes into a recycling bin

Want to share what your organization is doing to save paper?  Let us know in the comments section below.


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