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Paper Conservation that’s Practical and Painless

Eric Steiner 02.10.2014 | Practice Made Perfect

The paperless office remains a laudable goal that, for many firms, is still on the far horizon. In the meantime, the legal profession, among many others, continues to consume alarmingly high quantities of paper.  Going green need not become an irritable shift in the way you do business. In fact, the most practical solutions are the ones that slip easily into your routine. Here are ten. 

1.  Copying reports: Print doubled-sided (duplex). A 50-page report suddenly becomes an easier-to-carry 25 pager.

2.  Think before you print: You find an article that you want to read later. Instead of printing it out, email it to yourself so you can read it whenever you choose.

3.  Correcting errors: You find an error on page 36 of a 100-page document. Instead of reprinting the entire report, correct the error on page 36 and just print out that page.

4.  Print only what you need: Do you require the full document or just a few relevant pages? In Excel, when working with large spreadsheets with dozens of columns, print only the area or cells that you really need.  With PowerPoints, print handouts, not slides; use greyscale or black & white mode instead of color.

5.  Scan more/copy less: Need more be said?

6.  Making extra copies: It’s good to have a few extra copies of a document for meetings, but don’t overprint.  Five extras may be enough, while ten might be wasteful.  Make sure that one person is designated to bring copies to a meeting so that others don’t print their own and add to the waste.

7.  Leverage email/portals: Eliminate as much as possible the practice of printing a document just to fax and eventually trash it.

8.  Use print to PDF: Saving a PDF isa faster (and better!) option than printing and scanning a document to make a PDF.

9.  Choosing paper size: Make sure you use the correct paper tray. Use the Print Preview and Shrink to Print options and try to keep to standard paper sizes— 8.5x11, 8.5x14, and 11x17.

10. Reuse: Before you trash unneeded documents, consider using the reverse side of nonproprietary material  for notes.

And, of course, recycle!

These simple steps can eventually become a part of your firm culture — their logic and practicality overriding most resistance. You might also consider letting your clients know about your initiatives. There is little downside to this news and you may generate additional goodwill with some. 

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