Reducing office paper use

Even with all the electronic gadgets, online services, and digital media, the average U.S. office worker still uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year. And, nearly 70 percent of that paper ends up in the trash. Taking steps to use paper smarter and more efficiently can save you time, money, and resources.

The cost of using paper

Reams of office paperWhile the cost of paper is relatively inexpensive. The cost of storing, copying, printing, and disposing can add up to 31 times more than the cost of purchasing paper in the first place.

Paper and pulp manufacturing contribute to air, water, and land pollution and are among the top 10 greenhouse gas emitting industries. Crumpled and discarded paper that is thrown in the trash, instead of recycled, could end up in the landfill. Landfills release greenhouse gas, called methane, when waste decomposes.

Trim your paper waste

You don't need to go completely paperless to reduce your paper use. Use these tips to help you save time, money, and resources.

What you can do

  • Adjust the margin width and use smaller fonts to fit more text onto one page.
  • Pre-set copiers and printers to print double-sided.
  • Proofread carefully. If needed, print a test copy to check for errors.
  • Read brief documents on the screen.
  • Recycle

What a business can do

  • Create a company-wide policy to reduce paper waste.
  • Pre-set copiers and printers to print double-sided.
  • Eliminate unnecessary printers. Shared printers between 10 or more colleagues result in three times less print jobs than that of individual printers.
  • Password-protect printers and copiers to reduce unnecessary, forgotten or mistaken print jobs.
  • Place recycling containers in convenient locations.


  • HTML icon Paper Calculator (Environmental Paper Network)

    The premier tool for measuring the environmental impacts of paper and discovering the best paper choices. Use it to quantify the impacts of your paper usage, and to compare different grades and types of paper with varying amounts of recycled content.