Thursday, September 3, 2009

Reducing paper consumption

Recently I've taken proactive steps to reduce my carbon footprint and be more "green." While I cannot pretend to be truly eco-savvy, I have taken small steps that I feel good about. My daughter, who started Kindergarten today, now has an eco-friendly, BPA-free water bottle and reusable lunch containers instead of plastic sandwich bags. I've taken steps to reduce water consumption and turn off lights at our home. We leave the gas-guzzling SUV at home and drive the compact car whenever possible.
But last night, as I printed my daughter's elementary school lunch schedule, two extra pages came out of the printer each with one word on them. Knowing I could not reuse the mostly blank pages for my next printing job, I tossed the pages in the trash. Could I have reused the scrap paper for a grocery shopping list or gave the pages to my son with some crayons? Yes. But, I didn't. I've been thinking about my actions knowing that the typical office worker users about 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year – enough to cover a three- by six-foot desk more than 360 times.
This morning I read Fortune's Remember Lexmark? The printer underdog is still fighting where Jon Fortt discusses Facebook, Kindle and texting impacting printer and ink sales.

It's staggering how much sales of printer paper and ink cartridges impact the bottom line of Lexmark, HP and others.

People rely heavily on paper to perform everyday duties, despite the high costs associated with lost documents, risk of document obsolescence and labor inefficiency. Not only are piles of paper overwhelming my home office, paper is becoming a bottleneck for business processes and its excessive usage is also becoming a clear impediment for organizations that are embracing greener IT.

A few months back, IBM introduced new offerings to help clients address the costs, risks and efficiency challenges associated with using and storing paper. IBM is helping clients assess their rates of paper consumption and evaluate the benefits of eliminating the paper burden within their organizations.
Most recently, the U.S. Army, an IBM client, received an award for its use of IBM Lotus Forms software. Representing one of the world's largest e-forms installations, the U.S. Army has stopped sending soldiers into the line of fire in order to get an officer's digital signature on a military form. IBM Lotus Forms is currently used by more than 1.4 million Army personnel worldwide, yielding an estimated $1.3 billion in cost savings to the U.S. federal government.
Many clients have already turned to IBM to help reduce paper usage cost. Maybe I should use IBM technology to help me better manage my paper consumption at home? In the meantime, I'm going to grab those two stray pieces from my desk barrel, find some crayons and write up a grocery list.

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