Beyond printer paper, other recycled paper products are now available for all areas of the office – recycled cups for the water cooler; tablets and planners; manila folders for conventional filing; 'green' envelopes for documents that must be traditionally mailed rather than emailed; even restroom papers - all of which make a significant impact on reducing landfill waste, deforestation, and greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Recycled-papers.net, “Recycled paper requires less energy, fewer chemicals, less water to manufacture, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and takes material out of the waste stream.” If we purchase just 50-percent post-consumer content paper products we use 20 percent less energy in production; we reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 19 percent; 23 percent less water is used; solid waste is reduced by 25 percent; and 50 percent less trees are felled.
These statistics support trending towards recycled paper products and while paper may currently be the most impactful post-consumer product we can utilize in our offices, it is not the only one.
Pen manufacturers have stepped up and now offer recycled-content pens, including Pilot’s B2P (the first bottle to pen) and their RexGrip BeGreen, a 77.7 percent recycled ballpoint pen; Zebra’s Jimnie clip pen which uses 75 percent recycled materials; and Safari’s retractable gel pen with 81 percent post-consumer materials.
Switching to recycled pens may not seem like it would make a dent in our landfills, but according to Green-Mary.com, Americans toss out more than 1.5 billion disposable pens every year. Switching to recycled-content pens helps lessen the environmental impact of their manufacturing and at the same time helps push pen manufacturers to offer more and greener options.
Along with plastic pens, other recycled plastic products are surfacing in the office supplies market, including presentation binding and covering materials; recycled chair and floor mats; and even event materials like badge holders and card stock for marketing slicks. ReBinder brand now makes adhesive labels that don’t interfere with the recycling of their paper products.
While small office supplies and sundries are moving towards recycled content, we’re not yet buying up recycled or refurbished computers to run our companies, though we are being urged to recycle those electronics that are no longer of use to us. In this way, offices can help reduce literally tons of toxic waste from entering the landfills, and can contribute as much or more to greening up our planet as buying recycled office supplies. There are many resources for recycling your electronics including AllGreenRecycling.com; the EPA’s recycling/donation guide; NewTechRecycling.com; RecycleYourElectronics.ca; and my favorite guide to locally recycling everything, wherever you are, including electronics: 1800recycling.com.
Whether your office purchases as many recycled products as it can get its hands on, or is just starting to switch to greener options, each choice towards sustainable and post-consumer products and recycling of out-of-date office supplies, makes a difference in manufacturing waste, energy consumption and pollution control. Perhaps even more importantly, those purchasing and recycling decisions help to shift the business world towards greater consciousness of the need to reduce, reuse and recycle, shaping a future where post-consumer product options are standard, and products using only new materials are harder and harder to find.