7 Ways to Reduce Your Paper Usage

In spite of the move toward living digitally, Americans still use over 90 million tons of paper each year. Everyone nowadays seems to be reading everything online, and yet more than 2 billion books are printed each year. In addition, over 24 billion newspapers are printed annually, along with 350 million magazines. Only about half the available waste paper is recycled each year, leaving the other half to end up in local dumps and waterways.

Paper Usage

Of course, much of this wasted paper originates from commercial enterprises, such as offices, publishers, schools, colleges, and manufacturing. The average consumer has cut way back on their personal paper usage.

Saving Trees

You may have learned this stuff in grade school but forgotten it. Trees make oxygen, the air we breathe. They filter out harmful pollutants. They also produce foods like maple syrup, walnuts, pecans, and almost all fruits. A tree has its own self-replicating technology: it drops seeds each year so that new trees can be born. Many birds and small animals call a tree their home.

When we slash and burn a rainforest, we do irreparable harm to our planet. Rainforests are precious and delicate eco-systems that are simply remarkable on every level. There’s no way for humans to cheaply create, build or invent the machine that does what one common oak tree does. These are just a few of the reasons why it’s so important to save every tree possible. By taking strong actions now, we can ensure that our grandchildren will be able to walk through a lovely forest of aspens or look out on a field of evergreen trees and smell that unmistakable essence of evergreen.

Saving Other Resources

Each time someone prints something, there is other waste involved. You can’t print out a letter without using ink. You also need electricity. In the end, there are numerous direct and indirect costs associated with printing anything. And there are always harmful effects to the environment, such as the pollution caused by a single paper mill. When you add it all up, the cost to print a book includes damage to the eco-system, waste of natural resources, and it adds to the landfills. Instead, let’s all look for ways to reduce our paper usage so we can save as many trees as possible. We begin with these seven timely suggestions.

One: Recycle Phone Books

In this day and age, very few people use a phone book, yet most cities still print them. They are rarely recycled, but it’s possible to save approximately 30 trees simply by recycling 500 phone books of average size. Each year, when the new phone books arrive, be sure to throw the old ones in your recycling bin. These items can be recycled just like any other paper product. There’s nothing hard or complicated about the process. Most of us simply forget.

Two: Opt Out of Junk Mail

Many of us can fill a trash can with the junk mail we get in just one week. It’s time-consuming to open all those letters, plus it’s wasteful. Simply opt out. You can stop receiving certain emails, but many people are not aware that you can also do this with printed junk mail. It’s dangerous in this day and time to allow companies to send you pre-approved credit card applications through the mail. These can be stolen and used by thieves to obtain credit cards in your name.

The consumer reporting companies maintain a website and a toll-free number that consumers can call to opt out of receiving these offers. Simply by calling the toll-free number, you can opt out for five years. If you’d like to stop receiving junk mail permanently, then you must go to the website. The process is a bit more complicated but still worth it.

Three: Go Paperless

Many people have already done this, but it’s simple to go paperless at your bank and all creditors. Since it’s much cheaper for businesses to send your statements and bills by email, most companies make it very simple to choose “go paperless”. Go to their website and look for information about this on the homepage. Usually, you need to log into your account and then set up the paperless option there. It’s normally just a matter of a few clicks and you’re all done.

Four: Stop Printing So Much

The average consumer has a much better handle on this concept than the average business. Most homeowners barely use their printer these days. At the office, it’s a totally different story. The average office still prints out reports, surveys, journals, meeting notes and many other items. When you do need to print something out, you can easily adjust margins to .75 inch and thereby get more writing on each page. This reduces the number of pages on every document.

Five: Sign Up for Online Magazines

Who among us has a dusty pile of old magazines somewhere in our home? This is quite a common problem. You can eliminate this problem by signing up for online magazines. When you think about it, online publications make more sense. Once a document is digitized, you can quickly search through it for information. We’ve all read something interesting that we wanted to go back and look at again, but just can’t find the correct book or magazine. It’s easy to search through digital documents of any length using a single keyword and find exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re one of those people who hate to throw away old magazines, this is the perfect solution. Just choose digital publications from now on.

Six: Use Electronic Storage

Occasionally, we all get receipts, instructions, forms, and other important documents that we need to save. It’s very easy now to snap a photo of these types of items and then store them on your hard drive. You can create files specifically for warranties, receipts, or whatever it is. There are a number of handy apps now available that can make this even more convenient to use. Once you get these copies on your computer or phone, they can be saved by the date or type of item. This is much better than having a shoebox full of old receipts lying around gathering dust.

Seven: Buy Recycled Stuff

Recycled items are good for the environment. Because of the lower costs involved, you can now purchase countless recycled items that you use every day. These products include paper plates, envelopes, greeting cards, books, notebooks, household paper products and others.

The average person simply doesn’t think to look for this on the packaging. These recycled items are for sale on the shelf, right alongside products of the same type. It’s just a matter of looking for the phrase, “Made from Recycled Materials”.

Tips for Success

Sometimes we all receive important papers and worry that we’ll lose or misplace them. This happens with printed documents as well as digital items. To keep track of your important papers at home or at the office, purchase a small filing cabinet. For each topic or item, create a single file folder. You can include the date and any other important information like PIN numbers or due dates.

Saving digital documents is simple too. If you have a word processing program like Microsoft Word, be sure to save these items to your hard drive. If you already have too much on your hard drive, programs like Google Docs allow you to store everything in the cloud. A number of companies have created apps and software for saving important documents. It’s just a matter of finding the program that works best for you.

Of course, it goes without saying that we should all back up our phones and computers on a regular basis. It can be helpful to have a few blank thumb drives lying around for this purpose. Blank DVDs are cheap and you can store from 4.7 GB to 9.4 GB. These disks can last for years but be sure to stick them in a paper sleeve so they aren’t accidentally scratched. No paper sleeves available? Plastic lunch bags work perfectly.

Electronic document collaboration is superior to paper document collaboration. Here at Vision of Earth, we use Google Docs for all of our writing. It is a simple system that allows us to cooperatively edit documents, as well as track the changes made by each person. For more information on how we at collaborate, see our post on software tools that we use to collaborate across the world.

It is possible to do effective editing and collaboration even using standard word processors. For instance, you can learn to use “track changes” in Microsoft Word, or Edit->Changes in OpenOffice Writer. This lets you put editing marks in documents, and also view the editing changes that have been made by other people.

Use email (electronic mail) rather than paper mail when you can. Most businesses and even governments are in the process of transferring over to electronically available services. This will drastically reduce the costs of postal service as well.

Use a USB stick, also known as a ‘thumb drive’, to move around or share electronic documents rather than printing them. Encourage people coming to meetings to bring their reports in electronic format, and for attendees to bring electronic storage of their own (or share via an Internet-based document storage). Many companies are utilizing an ‘intranet’ now, allowing them to securely distribute documents to company employees only.

Use electronic fax services. There are a number of them available, some of which are even free for one-page faxes such as fax zero. The quality can sometimes be a bit low with the free services, so it is recommended that you phone the fax receiver to make sure that they can read the sent document.

Don’t place paper contacts on business cards (such as a postal mailing address). Only put email, and phone. This forces people to contact you through these electronic mediums.

Home

Use cloth napkins.

Use rags instead of paper towels.

Try to not use paper plates. Use durable washable ones if you need something for a BBQ. In terms of environmental impact, the trend usually goes like this: Reusable plates are better than paper plates which are better than plastic plates.

Use a handkerchief instead of kleenex.

Use a whiteboard for lists/notes/announcements.

Buy bulk foods using your own reusable containers rather than buying supermarket boxed

How Much Paper Does Your Office Use Each Year? Tips For Reducing Paper Use

Are you an average worker? If so, statisticians say you use around 10,000 sheets of paper every year.

If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. The bottom line is that the average American worker uses way too much paper. To put it in perspective, here are some facts to consider:

4 billion trees are cut down each year to make paper

16% of landfill solid waste is comprised of paper

In one year, the average American citizen will consume 800 million pounds of paper

If you’re having a hard time visualizing how much paper that really is, imagine 5.5 million printed copies of the Hunger Games Trilogy. In terms of trees, you would have to cut down every tree in New York City’s Central Park, or enough trees to build a city with 25,000 houses.

No Office Is Alike

The real issue is how that paper is being used or, in this case, not used. According to a recent survey, 70% of the total waste in offices is made up of paper and as much as 30% of print jobs are never even picked up from the printer. Even worse, 45% of printed paper ends up in the trash by the end of the day. When you consider that the total amount spent annually by U.S. companies on printed documents is $120 million, it’s clear that there is a lot of pointless printing in modern offices (and a lot of wasted money).

Of course, no one is an average worker and there is no such thing as an average office.

I recently visited a small startup that operated out of two different offices. In one office, the company’s engineering team does the coding and support for a Cloud-based software system. These workers are coding all day and hardly ever speak to one another — that’s done on chat — and they almost never print anything. The lead programmer could barely understand why he needed a printer at all and was satisfied with an inexpensive multifunction machine.

Meanwhile, in the same company’s main office, marketing, sales and support staff had multiple printers running all day to publish reports, marketing materials, and more, and stacks of unread documents ended up being piled in bins next to the machines. These are two very different offices within the same company with very different needs: one office barely needed a printer while the other was in desperate need of a Managed Print solution.

It might surprise you to know that even though we sell and service printers, we want you to print less.

Reducing paper usage isn’t just good for business; it’s good for the planet. Take a look around the office. What do you see?

Reams of wasted paper in the recycling bin?

No strategic supply management process?

Underutilized or inefficient printers?

Color copies that should be printed in black and white?

If that sounds familiar, then you need to manage your printers more effectively. We recommend a three-step approach to designing a print strategy that eliminates wasteful printing and matches your business needs.

Evaluate your device use, output, supplies, and viability to align them with a purchasing process

Integrate best-of-class software and printer hardware into your current system

Continuously assess your consumption based on actual usage — because it will always be in flux

Managed Print is ideal for controlling costs and can help ensure that your machines are helping you better serve your clients. To see how such a print partnership can benefit your company, download the Major Signs You Need Managed Print infographic below.

How much paper can be made from one tree?
It is impossible to specify how much paper can be made from one tree, due to its complicated process and multiple factors which impact production.  However,  if we assume that the following paper products have been produced using 100 percent hardwood. A cord of wood is approximately 8 feet wide, 4 feet deep, and 4 feet high. A cord of air-dried, dense hardwood (oak, hickory, etc.) weighs roughly 2 tons, about 15-20 percent of which is water.

It has been estimated that one cord of this wood will yield one of these approximate quantities of products:

  • 1,000-2,000 pounds of paper (depending on the process)
  • 942 100-page, hard-cover books
  • 61,370 No. 10 business envelopes
  • 4,384,000 commemorative-sized postage stamps
  • 460,000 personal checks
  • 1,200 copies of National Geographic
  • 2,700 copies of an average daily newspaper

Got Tricky Data? Try Excel Magic Tricks!

Got data? Then you’ve got needs – the need to make your data make sense. Microsoft Excel has amazing built-in magic tricks, and all it takes is just a few clicks!

Microsoft Excel

Information is important. Information is critical. Information is what keeps the world moving. Life can depend on having the right information – especially the life of a business. Information is the lifeline for the professional world.

If you think we’re overestimating the value of information, try not being able to access what you need when you need it. There is a reason data is such big business today. Data storage and protection of stored data have become a $30 billion industry, with several large players in the game, including Microsoft and Amazon. Growth is expected to explode in the next five years, to nearly $100 billion by 2022. Brands have embraced the flexibility of cloud data storage with its scalability and efficiency.

The growth of cloud storage is two-fold: brands are recognizing the ease of storing data off-site, and the cost efficiency of increasing storage needs over time due to their own growth. An invisible bonus is the decreased need for in-house redundancy, with data back-ups taking more space on servers and requiring staff to oversee these processes. What do we mean by “in-house redundancy”? We’re talking about how critical data is to the success of organizations, small and large. Think about your data – your information. If your data suddenly disappeared, how long would you be able to continue normal operations? Yes, you could revert to the most recent data back-up with minimal impact – hopefully – but there is also the question of how the data loss occurred. But these are considerations better left for your cybersecurity team.

Back to your data – your information. You need your data. Your data gives you great insights into your brand performance, your customer base, your revenue, and your operational details. But how do you make sense of your raw data? If your information is stored in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solution, you likely already have custom reports established to give you the details you need. These CRM solutions are often expensive and require further customization to get the details you need in a way that is meaningful to you and your organization. Not very helpful, is it?

  • A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solution allows for the continual data analysis to improve customer relationships and provide the insights needed for customer retention and revenue growth.
  • A CRM often pulls data from multiple sources to compile reports, like a company’s website or site analytics account for traffic metrics, various marketing efforts like direct mail or email campaigns, or even inbound marketing campaigns to measure response rates, and even social media profiles. All of this may be incredibly helpful, or it may be presented in a way that doesn’t have the right information and meaning that you are looking for to gain particular insights.

Don’t overlook the basics!

Microsoft Excel is a fantastic tool for data references and building tables to find deeper meaning from your data. Microsoft Excel helps you take raw data and organize your information in a way that holds meaning for you. You want to manipulate your data so that you can get helpful insights from the information within. For example, you’d like to identify the group of customers that purchased or canceled with your business within a certain date range. You may be able to customize a report somehow from another platform, like a CRM, but if you either do not have one of these costly software solutions, or just need this information quickly and want to avoid the time it may take to set up a custom report for these details, Microsoft Excel is the perfect solution for this purpose.

Data presentation is rarely perfect for your needs – without that costly and time-consuming customized reporting solution we mentioned earlier. A couple of quick keystrokes can help you get what you need in Microsoft Excel. For example, if you need to quickly ascertain the number of customers who purchased or canceled service within a set month and year, you have multiple options in Microsoft Excel.

First, your raw data probably isn’t formatted how you need it to be. What can you do?

  • Text to columns feature:
    • In Microsoft Excel, users have the opportunity to import data in a comma separated values file, a CSV, and then use this feature to separate the information into clean column format.
    • If your data is somewhat clean and consistent, this is one option. Otherwise, this is going to be manual and laborious.
  • How are your VBA coding sills? Can you write a macro? This seems like overkill, but it’s one way to get your raw data into an organized format. If you’re going to put this kind of time into your data, you may as well consider the customized reporting features we discussed earlier.
  • Sort and count manually
    • This is the least desirable option, as it’s the most manual and will take you the longest – isn’t the goal of technology to improve our lives and increase efficiency and productivity?

So, let’s look at our realistic option:

The super handy formula bar in Microsoft Excel is your best friend here. Follow these steps to get the magic number you need using this “magic trick” in Microsoft Excel.

Step 1: Ensure the date column is formatted properly. Excel defaults to a standard presentation for dates: MM/DD/YY. If your dates vary in presentation, this is an easy step that will save you a headache in later steps!

Step 2: Sort, or don’t sort. This is the magic of Microsoft Excel!

Step 3: A wonderful tool called the COUNTIFS formula is our best friend here. Using this specific example, if we’re looking at a specified data column in B, rows B1 through B50, and the date range is the month of April 2018, we can use this formula:

=COUNTIFS(B1:B50, “>04/01/2018″,B1:B50,”<04/30/2018”)

What this formula does is tell the spreadsheet to return the total number – not the specific rows or cells, mind you – of rows that include customers that are within the date range at you are looking.

Users will either need to update the cell range for the total count (“B1:B50”) or the date range (“04/01/2018” and “04/30/2018”) to update the total count.

  • If users will need to reflect on this data more often than just once, we recommend users set up a separate tab or sheet within the file for each month, even if the full data is the same, to simplify the process. This will help users compare months at a quick glance.

There you have it.

Quick note: adding more rows, etc., and this count will update accordingly and automatically. Also, sorting won’t impact the formula, just the display.

Microsoft Excel has a huge number of neat little magic tricks designed to help users – and it just takes a bit of manipulation to make your data “talk” to you and tell you what you need to know.

What is Chromium?

Is Chromium, the next browser from Google, trying to take over for Chrome?

At a recent I/O developer conference, Google’s senior VP of products, Sundar Pichai, announced that Google Chrome now has over 1 billion active users. Though Microsoft has pushed their Edge browser hard, consumers simply like Chrome better. So, why mess with perfection?

Google Chomium

The Chromium browser project actually does not attempt to improve upon Chrome. It is an open-source browser that works more as a shell or window manager for the Internet instead of as a standard browser. The tabs work more as a title bar for desktop applications and are designed to manage groups of applications.

Chromium’s Quick Search Box simplifies the way people access the Internet, including their personal content. The Chromium OS combines these two common activities to make navigation faster and more intuitive.

How Chrome Differs from Chromium

Google has taken the basics of Chrome and added some important open-source bits that may attract those who love and use open source programs. A few of these include:

  • Adobe Flash (PPAPI). Chrome includes this Flash plug-in that gets automatically updated each time Chrome is updated. In order to experience the best in games and graphics, computers need the latest version of Flash. Their sandboxed Pepper API (PPAPI) plug-in can be installed on Chromium, but this is not done automatically.
  • Support for AAC, MP3, and H.264. Both browsers include the basic codecs, such as WAV, Opus, Vorbis, Theora, VP8, and VP9. Chrome provides licensed codecs giving users access to a wider range of media and content.
  • Extension Restrictions. These days, many extensions have been released that can actually harm your computer and zap resources. With Chrome, all extensions that are not found in the Chrome Web Store are automatically disabled. A recent investigation found that some rogue extensions can highjack your computer’s resources and use them to mine cryptocurrencies. This will cause your computer to slow way down and behave in unusual ways.
  • Updating Google regularly. Both Windows and Mac users have an app running in the background that keeps Chrome always up to date. Chromium lacks this convenient feature.
  • Security Sandbox. One of the best features of Chrome and Chromium is that these browsers have the security sandbox enabled by default. A few browsers, including some Linux programs, will disable Chromium’s security sandbox, which can cause random issues.

Why Build Another Web Browser?

Google’s developers designed Chromium in an effort to build a better, safer, more reliable way for users to surf the web. By allowing developers all over the world to work on the project, they felt that Google Chrome could be significantly improved upon. However, this hasn’t happened.

Chromium is still largely misunderstood by the masses and has not generated the global interest that other open source products have. For instance, the Linux operating system has become a very trustworthy program that is used today by about half of all Internet servers. It’s reliable and secure. A number of programmers and developers will always be fans of Linux no matter what. It remains freely distributable, allowing anyone to create a distribution for any purpose.

A large community of developers worldwide worked on Linux for many years and their hard work produced an amazing family of free, open-source operating systems. These programs are used in education, business, finance, video games, and supercomputers, among others. Linux set the bar high for open-source software collaborations.

Today, users can still get excellent support from these developers. Companies like Red Hat and SUSE still offer commercial support as well. The dream for Chromium was that global developers would continually improve upon the program until it far surpassed other browsers on the market.

Why Chrome is Preferred

Today, in spite of the many good browser choices available to users, Chrome is hard to beat. This may add to Chromium’s lackluster appeal. Below, are a few of the reasons why Chrome users say they will continue to use this browser over Chromium and others:

  • Extensions and apps are integrated seamlessly. Firefox takes months to add a new app or extension for new sites, programs, and content.
  • Ease of use and installation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to install and use Chrome. It has a very clean, organized design that takes away the confusion that new users may experience. That makes it perfect for groups like the elderly who need programs that work without much ado.
  • Bookmarks and favorites can be quickly transferred to a new computer, phone or tablet. Chromium and Firefox both use a more disorganized system of transferring your bookmarks that can be painfully inconsistent.
  • Lack of understanding is another hurdle for Chromium. Because it is not a standard web browser, users may get confused about exactly how to manage applications and programs.
  • Efficiency and speed. Today, people expect to assert almost no effort when using the computer. They want everything to work seamlessly without additional effort or education. The need to be user-friendly is a giant obstacle to overcome when creating new apps, computers, programs, etc.

Getting Started with Chromium

Chromium is still a good option for those who are looking for open-source software and who want to avoid closed-source bits. Linux distributions may incorporate Chromium instead of Firefox simply because it’s so much like Chrome, yet offers good open-source attributes. Of course, Chrome still offers a better Flash player and a few other good features. For instance, using Chrome on Linux, users can now stream Netflix videos, an attractive quality for those who love Netflix. Chromium does not offer support for HTML5 video content.

Despite its drawbacks, numerous users including developers are working on Chromium. Getting involved in this project is easy. New users might begin by visiting forums and developer discussion groups. There, you can meet some like-minded individuals and get up to speed. You can also get involved by volunteering to help with testing. Chromium developers are looking for reduced test cases that improve web compatibility.

There is always a wide range of issues from translation problems to file bugs that developers can help with. Submitting patches can be extremely helpful. In the end, Google’s hope is that Chromium will become a fast, responsive program that is secure and dependable. It remains to be seen whether this will happen or not. Though Google is a trusted brand globally speaking, the company does sometimes create an “Edsel” when it comes to new programs, software, products, and apps.