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Houston, Texas, United States
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Green - translates into real dollars for SMB

We were wondering how we could be part of the "green" movement. Is going "green" even makes sense for a small business? Wouldn’t it involve too much work and effort? Would it be expensive? Where should we start? We started with paper recycling- it was an obvious choice, as we were drowning under mountains of paper. We placed a file box in each office. The instruction that went along with that was: "place all your waste paper in the box". Within 2 days we had to modify our instructions since we realized that we had different types of waste paper, each with its different characteristics:
  1. Junk mail - went directly into our recycling boxes (as long as it did not have sensitive information - credit applications, etc.)
  2. Drafts - were recycled into a different box - to be used again in our printers for internal documents or more drafts.
  3. Old reports and documents - continued to be shredded.
  4. Sensitive documents with company or personal information - were shredded.
  5. Magazines, periodicals and news paper - after they were read or distributed among the employees they also ended up in our recycling boxes. The recycled paper is donated once a week to a local school. The school collects the paper and sells it. The money is used to buy additional supplies for the students and teacher and pay for special programs. The shredded paper is used in our packaging. We no longer use "peanuts" or other packaging materials as we produce our own now. We then started thinking of ways to REDUCE the amount of paper we were using.
These are the ways we found:
  1. Important documents are printed to PDF and saved on our server.
  2. Before printing something from the internet - we use the print preview button and choose the pages to print - if you have ever printed anything from the internet you know that what looks like 1 page is actually 3 pages. The last two pages are usually nothing but some graphics, footers, etc.
  3. Email - we now email all of our invoices, quotes and purchase orders. When we asked our customers if it will be ok to email them invoices instead of mailing them - they all agreed. (We only have one customer that asked us to continue mailing his invoices.)
  4. Fax - We connected our fax to an old computer (no expense there) and made it into our "fax server". Junk faxes? No problem - we click "delete" and they are gone. An unexpected added benefit was that now we can access all of our faxes. No one has to monitor the faxes and go distribute them. A fax is never lost. Using a simple fax program - we can recognize the text on the faxes; we can email them to other people.

Conclusion: we are saving money - We reduced the amount of new paper we buy by 70%. We used to buy 10 reams every month. A simple calculation: $50.00 a box times 12 months = $600.00. 70% of $600.00 = $420.00 a year. We are helping our community and we have less paper to file. Our filing clerk only spends about 5 hours a week filing, the rest of the time she is now able to help with the phones, and accounts receivable - we joke with her that we recycled her job too.

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