You've seen them before: the office desk that has so many Post-It Notes that it looks like roofing tiles, that boss who has so many piles of papers on his desk he can't find the contract he needs, the executive who insists on making copies for every person he ever knew. Paperwaste, it clogs our desks and kills trees .... well, sort of.

Papers
Credit: karindalziel via Flickr

We all have seen those instances where there is so much paper that it seems overwhelming. People make unnecessary copies of documents, use large pieces of paper to write a note that can be written on a smaller Post-It, and the list goes on.

Having a slow day? Well, why don't you have fun with your co-workers? Write a note on a sheet of paper and send it to them via paper airplane! It's fun to see how aerodynamic you can fold it so it makes it to your buddy. WAIT! Do you really need to waste a whole sheet of paper? Or could you just take them a cup of coffee and chat for a few minutes or e-mail them a message?

Most people these days use e-mail programs at work. Yet, they continue to buy the paper phone message books. Of course, then you have to write the message, get up, walk it over to the person, give the piece of paper to the person with the phone number on it, then return to your desk. And, if you're one of those thoughful office workers who buys the carbon version of these message pads, then you have a whole book of already-distributed messages sitting on your desk ....collecting dust. Both Microsoft Outlook and Novell GroupWise have a feature where you can take a telephone message and e-mail it to the recipient. Why not take advantage of that system and save a tree (and desk space)?

And then there is copying: we copy for others, we copy for the file, we copy for the tickler system .... copy, copy, COPY! And then all those copies make big, bulky files that you have to find room for and carry around. What if that paper pile was half the size? Right! Paper has two sides, and most people don't use the second side. Set your copier to make double-sided copies and you use less paper. Plus, double-sided copies reduce the physical size of your files and save paper. And, if you have the ability to scan the document and send it to others via e-mail, that's one less copy you have to make!

Does your company have a recycling program? Some companies have replaced the usual desk-side garbage can with a recycling bin that has a tiny desk-top garbage can attached. The idea is that the amount of garbage you generate in a day should only amount to what you can fit in that little can. Then the paper products that are put in the large bin can be recycled. Be careful not to put any food garbage in the recycling bin! It will contaminate the recyclable material and then it can't be recycled.

Want to take the environmentally friendly approach to paper in your office? Along with changing your habits as discussed above, why not consider buying recycled paper? The more recycled paper we use, the more we are helping the environment. Recycled paper usually is made from - you guessed it - used paper. So, that paper you throw in the recycling bin actually gets cleaned and made into paper again. Ta-Da!

There is a cure for paper waste. With a little attention and the right system to work with, you can save money, save the environment, and perhaps become more efficient at work.