By Toren Elste | Jan 28, 2016

I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of interviewing Sqwatch, our UW Sustainability mascot, and get his thoughts on office paper reduction. He's a busy guy but we were able to chat with him for a few minutes!

Toren: Sqwatch, Thanks so much for joining us today. We’re excited to chat with you about paper reduction since after all, you are a Paper Reduction Pro. So Sqwatch, why should we reduce paper?

Sqwatch: Reducing Paper is easy! It saves your department money and - my favorite - it’s also an easy sustainable practice to adopt.

T: Are there small steps people can take to start reducing paper in their office or classroom?

S: Absolutely! Be mindful of your paper use, and only print when necessary. For sharing documents, collaboration and review, focus on online applications such as OneNote or Google Docs.

For all the professors out there, I recommend sending out online course evaluations, syllabi and materials and allowing for online paper/project submissions. Programs like canvas make this easy; it allows you to add notes too!  And think about it - everything is localized in one neat and tidy folder on your desktop.

For those times when you must print out a document, make sure to purchase 100% recycled paper. Just by taking simple actions, we can reduce paper consumption by 30% - which is the law for state agencies like the UW in Washington state. 

T: Let’s talk about printing. If you absolutely must print, what are ways to go about it in a sustainable way?

S: Well, simply switching to double-sided printing can make a huge difference. You can see some other printing best practices at UW Sustainability's paper reduction page!

T: Wow, that sounds easy. I will definitely be sharing this with my coworkers! Anything else we should think about, Sqwatch?”

S: Shifting office behavior can be difficult, but being conscious of reducing printing and copy volume can really help, it can save money in the long run (less paper and less frequent toner refills) which is beneficial to both our beautiful trees and our wallets too!

Remember, Reuse! Reuse, Reuse! I like to use paper scraps or one-sided documents as scratch paper when I’m finished with them.

Last but not least, if you must print increase margins and decrease font to cut down on sheets of paper used!

T: Well, Thanks again Sqwatch. I hope this inspires more people to sign up and become a Paper Reduction Pro!

Sqwatch always says Paper reduction is good for our environment, wallet and makes work more efficient too! The University of Washington is a local, regional and national leader in Sustainability with a dedicated investment in the environment. Our practices reflect our values as we celebrate our campus and community, and we invite you to celebrate with us by implementing more sustainable practices into your work. Take the pledge to become a Paper Reduction Pro now.

Toren’s Tidbits are blog posts by UW Sustainability Events and Outreach Specialist, Toren Elste. Toren will share things she’s passionate about - everything from green office highlights to paper reduction tips, green event resources, ocean conservation, sustainable food and SO much more!