Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Email Tips to Save Trees on Earth Day - Give Printing a Rest!

It is no secret that the amount of paper consumption has increased since the advent of computer automation. And even though the paperless office was supposed to lead to the demise of paper, in many areas, it has actually led to a significant increase.

Just think of how you treat your e-mail... even though it is the electronic, and can be read and responded to electronically, many people print and file those e-mails. What about you? How many times and day do you print an e-mail or its attachments?

Celebrate Earth Day by cutting your paper printing of e-mail in half!

Just think of the impact on the paper consumption in the world, if everyone would print 50% fewer e-mails Tuesday. Just think of the impact if it was done every day!

Why do people print so many messages that could be stored and retrieved electronically? Much of it stems from psychological, aesthetic, and legal reasons. Here are some of them:

+You like to touch and hold the information.

+You like to flip pages back and forth.

+You like to write comments, and make notes.

+You like to physically file items for reference.

+You take information with you to meetings. Paper enables the portability of information.

+You need them for legal reasons.

While some of the above reasons justify the printing of documents, there are electronic means to achieve similar results. Some of these involve the breaking of old comfortable habits, others require a shift in the way you handle your work. C'mon - you can print 50% less!!!

As for touching and holding the information, while it may be comfortable or familiar, you are essentially saying that your caring more about your own needs than those of the environment.

As for the ability to flip pages back and forth, annotate items, and physically filing items, all of these can be done electronically.

Needing to carry documents with you to meetings for reference may be a legitimate reason for printing. The challenge here is to use as little paper as possible, and only what is needed. Some PDAs enable you to carry that information with you electronically.

Regarding the need for legal documentation, there may be very legitimate reasons for the printing of these documents. However, more and more, electronic documents are being accepted more and more as legal documentation, so check the laws in your state and print as few as possible.

Other paper saving practices you can consider are:
· Don't automatically print all pages of a document without reviewing the entire document.
· Print only what you need.
· If you need only a brief item of information, make a note of it in your PDA or planner.
· Single space documents when possible. Make narrower margins.
· When printing, print two pages to a page.
· File electronically.
· Use both sides of the paper.
· Use the "track changes" feature to edit and comment on documents

The most important practice is to "think before you print." In celebration of Earth Day, set a goal to print as few items as possible, and at least 50% less than what you print in a normal day. Just think of the compound is impact! Even though trees are a renewable resource, the less we have to renew, the better for the environment.

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