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Recycling and Reusing Office Supplies

Quite often I recommend that companies purchase used or refurbished office cubicles to save money.  Another way that businesses can save money and improve their bottom line is by recycling and re-using office supplies.  Businesses can do their part to save the earth  by limiting the amount of office supplies they go through every month.  The quick and easy way to do this is to use less supplies and re-use them more.

 

Organizing a strategy for reusing your office supplies isn’t as complicated as you may think.  It takes a little organization, perserverance, and teamwork.  Here are some tips to get you started:

 

Be Smart About Printing

Every time you go to print, ask yourself if you really need a hard copy.  Most of the time the answer will be no.  Start by making an effort to edit and proof your documents on the computer, and encourage other employees in the office to do the same.  When you have to print a draft, do so on recycled paper.

 

Printer and fax paper can often be used more than once. With the exception of formal documents, you can use both sides of a page before disposing of it. Turn leftover paper into scrap paper and use it for incoming faxes, fax cover sheets, informal notes, and phone messages

 

Re-use General Office Items

You can re-use items like old binders, file folders, paper clips, pens and pencils, rubber bands and interoffice mail folders.  All of these items can be used over and over again.  You can also re-use your shipping supplies like boxes, packing paper, and Styrofoam pellets.  You might also want to consider shredding old paper and using it for packing.  Place these reclaimed items in a central location and encourage employees to actually use them.

 

You can eliminate disposable items in your break room or lunch room by asking employees to donate their old dishes, coffee mugs, flatware, and glasses for the office kitchen instead of continually purchasing and using disposable cups and paper plates. Rather than buying individual packets of coffee, creamer, and sugar, purchase these items in bulk and store them in large containers.

 

Monitor the Supply Cabinet

It may sound extreme, but limiting access to the supply cabinet will help you to keep a handle on commonly used and wasted supplies.  Consider giving the key to one person, such as your office manager, and require employees to see this person if they need an item. He or she will be able to better gauge how many supplies are going out the door each week.

 

Another option is to post a sign on the cabinet encouraging item reuse. If an employee doesn’t like a style of pen they’ve been using, keep a bin of mismatched pens to encourage them to make an exchange rather than throw their old one away.

 

To succeed, everyone will need to be involved.  You may want to hold a companywide meeting to discuss your new office supply waste-reduction program.  Here, you can explain how maximizing office supplies is in everyone’s best interest.  Explain that the costs saved help to strengthen the company’s bottom line, which can trickle down to the employees in the form of increased job security or even bonuses. You might want to consider throwing occasional office parties or lunches paid for by a percentage of the savings your business is reaping from these cost-cutting measures.

 

Try to create a company culture not just of cost-consciousness, but also of environmental stewardship. Many people are concerned about the environment but are not sure how to make a difference. Provide them with facts and figures that prove how much their small efforts in the workplace will add up over time.

 

You can find these tips and more at www.allbusiness.com