All businesses, even those done online, produce significant amounts of paper waste every day. There are paper documents, receipts, sticky notes, filler paper for packages, and so much more. Aside from hurting the environment, using too much paper for your online business can lead to high costs in the long run, even if the values seem negligible now.
Hence, here are the best ways to reduce paper waste while running an online business:
1. Digitize as much as you can
Today, modern technology makes it possible to do almost all business processes digitally, and yet so many business owners don’t take advantage of this fact. If you want to cut your paper usage in half or perhaps even more, digitize your business as many business processes as you can. For example:
- Use digital invoice tools. Physical invoices make up for a ton of paper waste. Instead, use a digital invoicing system that not only eliminates paper invoices but also makes it easier for you to track your finances digitally. Aside from that, digital invoices are kept in a backup so that you don’t lose your records, unlike paper invoices, which are easy to lose or damage.
- Switch to digital files. Is your base of operations teeming with paper files? Reduce the mess (and your paper usage) by digitizing your filing system and storing them on the cloud. Not only does this strategy help you cut down your waste, but it also makes your filing system more efficient.
- Make notes digitally. Instead of buying sticky notes or notepads for random notes, use digital notepads instead. It’s a lot more eco-friendly and reduces the risk of losing notes all over the place.
- Allow for electronic signatures. Whenever possible, allow for electronic signatures to eliminate the need to print multiple pages of documents that need to be signed.
2. Rethink your packaging
Another area of an online business that produces a lot of paper waste is packaging. If you use materials like copper foil, which are not as inexpensive as paper, you can be mindful of the amount of material you use. But when you use paper for packaging (paper fillers, wrapping, labels), the cheap costs make it easier to use more paper than you need to.
Here’s how you can cut down your paper usage for packaging:
- Consider using thinner paper materials for wrapping, especially if it’s done mainly for aesthetic purposes.
- Buy recycled paper or reuse paper that you have in your office or at home as much as possible.
- Shred recycled paper materials to create paper fillers for your packages; you can even use newspaper, brown bags, and magazines.
- Consider making your labels smaller or thinner.
3. Think before you print
When you run an online business, there’s usually not much that you have to print. But when you do, think twice before hitting that Print button. If the file can be stored as a PDF or used digitally, don’t waste more paper by printing it.
4. Print smaller cards
Sending thank you cards is the norm for many online businesses, but you don’t have to print it on a big piece of paper. Instead, have your cards printed on smaller pieces of paper, and maybe consider reducing the thickness, too. As long as the message can still be read, your thank you card will still have the same effect on customers, making them feel valued.
5. Don’t throw away used paper
When the used paper starts to accumulate in our work area, the first instinct is to chuck them in the trash bin. But don’t do this just yet! Your used paper can still serve a purpose as a notepad or even another document (just print on the other side!). If you want to create a notebook or a pad out of your used paper, you can take them to a copy shop to have them bound, or you can even bind them yourself with a padding compound.
6. Buy thinner or recycled paper
If it is impossible to eliminate paper usage at your business, opt for recycled or thin paper instead. Compared to regular copy paper, these types of paper are cheap and eco-friendly. Reserve the normal copy paper or special paper for more important documents, such as contracts or proposals that need to be sent to a client.
Reducing paper waste at any business, online or not, is very easy. You have to find ways that are in line with your business needs. Not only does this help you reduce expenses for paper, but it is also a great way to help conserve our natural resources.