The springtime has a lot of us appreciating the sights, smells and sounds of the great outdoors. Since the industrial revolution, manufacturing has been nature s enemy. It s only in recent years that we ve begun to develop hybrid cars, alternate energy sources and green manufacturing practices.
The paper industry has taken a big role in deforestation in the past, but now that electronic media have taken over the market, the problem hasn t gotten better. Ironically, in the electronic age people are using more paper than ever; it s just that they re using it to print and photocopy things instead of writing things by hand.
As part of the green initiative, many purveyors of office supplies online and off are making attempts to lessen their environmental impact. This is being achieved in several ways:
- Many sites distribute products made of pre- and post-consumer recycled materials including paper, ink cartridges, labels, file folders and much more. Pre-consumer recycled material is typically collected from manufacturing. For example, if a company cuts shapes out of large plastic sheets, the scraps can be melted down and re-used for other purposes. Paper products are readily recyclable and even shredded documents can be recycled. Recycled paper costs slightly more than paper made from new materials but in the long run, we re all going to have to become more conscious of our consumerism. Buying recycled and eco-friendly products is an easy way to help the office supplies industry to become more sustainable and ultimately saves trees.
- A lot of manufacturing facilities are now using smarter energy sources like solar and wind energy to power machinery and regulate the temperatures of warehouses and production areas. Going green can also be as simple as buying long-lasting light bulbs and eliminating light and climate control in unused portions of a facility. Amazon.com recently decreased its energy use significantly by changing the lighting schedule in its storage spaces to eliminate energy use while the facility is closed.
- Some manufacturers are finding ways of reducing or eliminating toxic chemicals from their fabrication processes. With so many advances in the market of natural chemicals, it s getting easier for companies to choose natural alternatives to traditionally used noxious chemicals.
- Some stores including Office Max offer recycling of electronics. Used electronics devices can have a severe negative impact on landfills because they contain toxic chemicals and metals that are not biodegradable and therefore contaminate the soil and ground water permanently. Office Max s electronics recycling program is easy to use. Simply request a container from the Office Max website, fill it with approved devices and mail it back at no cost. In fact, before you throw away any office supplies, do a little research. Most office supply products are recyclable and/or available in recycled versions. If everyone takes small steps toward decreasing the environmental impact of the office supply industry, together we can make a huge difference.
Now It s Your Turn!
Companies like Office Max are trying to do their part to reduce the environmental impact of the office supplies industry, but if we re going to make an even bigger difference, we re all going to have to get involved. Most communities have recycling centers as well as curbside recycling programs where the materials can be picked up directly. All recycling programs accept aluminum, paper, cardboard, plastic and glass, at a minimum. Eliminating recyclables from your personal and business trash cans usually cuts down on trash by up to 50%.
If a business uses just 1000 sheets of paper per day, then its paper consumption requires about 43 trees per year. With millions of businesses in the US alone, it s easy to see why we should buy recycled paper and recycle it again when we re through.
The Buy Green Storefront on Office Depot represents products that are either recycled or produced using eco-friendly methods and materials. Other sites we surveyed including Office Max also host a wide variety of recycled or eco-friendly products that can replace the wasteful supplies your business is currently using. So, the next time you stock up on office supplies, try some recycled versions.
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