Today is the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, where people around the world will participate in activities aimed at protecting the planet and reducing our consumption of environmental resources. One simple way to make a difference is to reduce our paper usage.
Paper generally makes up 25% of the trash handled by local municipalities, according to the University of Michigan Center for Sustainable Systems, and the average office employee uses thousands of sheets per year. So in honor of Earth Day, here are 3 simple ways organizations can limit their paper-usage and help reduce their carbon footprint.
Digitally store and share documents
The U.S. uses approximately 68 million trees each year to produce paper and paper products. There’s also the additional environmental impact of shipping the lumber, processing it in pulp factories, and shipping it to retailers and end-users. One way to reduce paper usage is to digitally store and share documents rather than printing and mailing or handing them out. Unlike papers that are easily misplaced and difficult to track, documents sent with electronic signature software can be accessed anywhere online and tracked with an audit trail. This not only reduces paper usage and mailing costs, but improves visibility and saves time.
Scan and recycle existing paper files
The need to retain records, often over the course of years, has left many organizations with the burden of maintaining file storage cabinets. Oftentimes these documents are rarely referenced, are time-consuming to find, and can be costly to maintain. When all documents are centrally stored in a secure, searchable online location, finding the information you need becomes faster and more convenient. Digitize existing hard copies by scanning as many papers as you can each day, or consider hiring a professional scanning service for a higher volume of documents. Once converted to a digital format, papers can be recycled and office space reclaimed.
Electronically sign documents
NDAs, HR agreements, invoices, permission slips, and practically any document can be signed electronically - no printing or ink required. Electronic signatures reduce document turnaround time by an impressive 80%, so forms and documents are finalized faster without ever needing to overnight envelopes or even touch a piece of paper. Papers that are returned incomplete or with errors require additional printing and time to address, while electronic signature solutions ensure all document fields are completed and minimize opportunities for error.
Cutting back on paper usage by electronically signing, sharing, and storing documents not only helps the environment, but also helps organizations save time, reduce costs, and operate more efficiently. Earth Day is a great way to draw attention to an important cause, and by implementing simple changes to help reduce our impact on the environment we can treat every day like Earth Day.
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