Making your Office Zero Waste

In the 21st Century we all live in a throwaway culture, people buy things for one use then chuck it, with little thought to the effect that can have on the environment.

The most common place of work in the UK is an office, I find that an office is one of the most egregious cases of needless waste without even meaning to be, and with all the best intentions it’s easy to forget how much you’re wasting on a day to day basis just doing your job.

If we don’t work towards minimising our waste the world will end up looking like it does in the Pixar movie Wall-E, one massive rubbish tip.

However, there are lots of little things that can be done to avoid our Wall-E fate, starting in your office.


In the UK, over 12.5 million tonnes of paper and cardboard are recycled every year. Of that 12.5 million tonnes, it’s estimated that an average office worker prints 45 sheets of paper per day, of which over half of that is wasted.

In theory, I work in a paperless office, but as a business we seem to like working from pieces of paper rather than screens. Having partly worked from home much of the last few years I had to get used to working in a partly paperless environment.

It was when my previous support left recently and we went through the masses of paper printed and put into files I realised we could do more.

We don’t keep paper client files and at the end of the process everything should be scanned. I can at least take the credit for bringing scanning to the business around 8 years ago, convincing the other directors not to spend thousands on more filing cabinets and to purchase a scanning software package. We then shred the client papers, a nightmare task…

We are all set up to print double sided, we buy 100% recycled paper. I now need to encourage the team only to only print where necessary.

What’s next – I also encouraged the company to get a digital signature system so that some documents can client can be signed online, saving printing and posting documents.

My new support and I are only posting documents onto clients where necessary and then only those absolutely needing to be printed and signed. I am currently working on how much this has saved the business, paper, print and postage.

Avoid paper sticky notes

Paper sticky notes can’t be recycled due to the sticky patch, so they are best avoided altogether.


Fold letters so they fit inside smaller envelopes where possible. This not only saves wasting more expensive, larger envelopes, but also reduces the postage costs.


Many new technologies can allow us to accomplish the goals we desire with fewer resources and

demand on the environment. I noticed staplers which binds papers together without using valuable metals for the small bind to hold pages together. These save money in the cost of staples and waste. These staple-free staplers make folds and slits to bind small number of pages (up to 8) together with no metal staple. With some encouraging I’m sure I could convince the office to adopt them.

See whether you could put some of these tips into practice within your business or home office, you will save money and save the environment at the same time….