[LINK] Environment department used 30 sheets of paper per person per day

Karl Auer kauer at biplane.com.au
Wed Jan 28 09:45:57 AEDT 2009

On Wed, 2009-01-28 at 09:06 +1100, Jon Seymour wrote:
> Elimimating waste is, of course, worthy, but one suspects that the  
> environmental footprint of a netbook over its lifetime (3 years) is  
> greater than 65 reams of plantation derived paper

Maybe. Doesn't invalidate the point though, because those netbooks are
used for more than just "replacing" the paper. That is, the tool exists
for other reasons, so why not also use it to reduce paper usage.

> >> I think artificial quotas are a bad idea... Perhaps people are  
> >> printing because its required by their job ...

I reckon one percent, at most, is actually required. I reckon 99% of all
printed sheets are printed "just in case" and will never be read.

Here are some true stories, all multiply repeated, from my time at the
ETHZ computer centre. The worst offenders were people working on
research documents, so these were often documents of several hundred

- People print stuff off double sided, realise it'll be harder to
photocopy (!), then print it off again single sided before they post it
off to the recipient, who has no intention of ever photocopying it. And
who is supposed to be proofreading it, and thus would be far better off
with an electronic copy anyway.

- People print documentation. Reams of it at a time. Sometimes things
like man pages. New version of the software - another ream. The paper
doco is never referred to. It is a security blanket, nothing more.

- People send stuff to the wrong printer - so they print it again on
"their" printer rather than go and collect it (VERY common). While this
might have some, tiny, faint justification if the wrong printer was in
another building, I've seen this happen with printers no more than a
metre apart.

- People go to the printer, take everything that's waiting, go back to
their desks and discard anything that isn't theirs! Forcing others to
reprint. This got one fellow disciplined. A rare win.

- People print entire documents single sided portrait, then double sided
portrait, then single sided landscape, then double sided landscape - to
see "which looks best".

- People print stuff on A3 "because I don't like wearing my glasses"

- People print one copy of the agenda, the minutes, the working papers
etc for each participant in a meeting "just in case". Of course everyone
brings their own printed copy of everything.

- People make a one-word change on one page of a zillion page document -
then reprint the document. Repeat. Combine with the previous item for
extra points.

- Secretary/PA prints off all items received by email - including
attachments - and drops a ream or so of paper in the boss' in-tray every
morning. Boss has read all his/her email on his/her laptop in the train
long before getting to work, so boss takes entire ream and dumps it.
Every day. Matter of habit. Doesn't tell secretary to stop.

But my all time favourite was when I challenged someone who was stuffing
at least a thousand pages into a wastepaper basket *directly off the
printer*: "I was just making sure the printer had enough toner".

> > I think it helps to give people an idea of what is expected of them.

Yes. A quota need not be a hard quota to have an effect. Give everyone a
thousand page quota for the year and see how they go. People going over
quota should quietly be asked why - much as someone who spends too long
on the phone or arrives back late from lunch a few times too often would
quietly be asked why. It might be happening for a good reason, but it is
more likely to be a wasteful, non-productive habit that can and should
be dealt with.

Regards, K.

Karl Auer (kauer at biplane.com.au)                   +61-2-64957160 (h)
http://www.biplane.com.au/~kauer/                  +61-428-957160 (mob)

GPG fingerprint: 07F3 1DF9 9D45 8BCD 7DD5 00CE 4A44 6A03 F43A 7DEF

More information about the Link mailing list