Just say “no” to paper invoices.

Sometimes making a change is as easy as saying “no”. Last week I received this email from one of our suppliers:

Please find attached the July 2011 Invoices. A hard copy will be arriving in the mail shortly.
Thank you,

My usual process when I get an invoice via email is to forward the PDF  to my finance team and they take care of it. And with the number of emails I get every day, it’s easy to just gloss over what’s written in the email and just follow my standard process. But when I read that they were also sending a hard copy in the mail, I had to stop and ask myself “why?” I don’t need a hard copy sent to me, since it’s WAY easier for me to email the PDF to my finance team rather than walk 4 floors down to give it to them in person. Also, I’ve already been given a copy of it, so if I really needed a hard copy, I could just print it out myself.

So I emailed back my supplier and told her that we don’t require hard copies of any of our invoices, and asked if she could make a note in our file to not have hard copies automatically sent out. She replied “No problem”.

I wonder how many organizations are just in the habit of sending out hard copies of invoices? How much are they un-neccesarily spending on print, labour and mail costs? How many of their customers really require them?

Also, how many people routinely get paper invoices that they don’t need and would rather recieve in PDF form? Do you take the time to tell your supplier and request a change? It took me just seconds to send the email to request it and will save 12 sheets of paper, 12 envelopes and 12 stamps a year.  Yeah, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but multiply that by all of you reading this post and there could be some serious savings.

Going green is about making a lot of these little changes in life. Many of them take seconds and are quite painless. So the next time you get a paper invoice that you don’t need, take the time to say “no”.

We’ll be wrapping presents yo!

We were sitting around the table at our last Green Team meeting discussing ideas for projects we can take on. And idea popped in my head: Eco-wrapping. No, it’s not throwing down rhymes about the environment (though that would be pretty cool!) it’s about reusing materials for holiday wrapping to save a few trees.

I’ve done this a couple of years with a local charity – at malls and our local emporium where people buy their outdoor gear. I’ve wrapped snowshoes, canoe paddles, vases – all with kraft paper or recycled posters and paper rafia. And the best part is … no tape!

A lot of my Green Team cohorts were shocked when I told them this. Ya, it’s not pretty…but it makes for an interesting conversation piece under the tree or passed over glasses of rum and eggnog. How many of us wrap beautifully anyways? I know that even with the best paper money can buy and rolls of tape my gifts look like they have been wrapped by drunken elves with no thumbs.

Eco-wrapping is coming to a Softchoice branch near you! And if you want to bust a rhyme while we wrap the DVD box set of MASH you got your Uncle Herb, you might even get a discount off the fee (which will be a donation to Softchoice Cares.) Want to learn more? You can read “Eco-Chick’s” online post about Eco-wrapping.

10 Tips to Green Your Direct Mail

Client address changes, undeliverable mail and low response rates are among a few of the problems regularly experienced by business mailing campaigns. The problem becomes magnified when the costs of paper, printing and shipping are all worked into the equation. It is estimated that undeliverable- as –addressed (UAA) mail costs mailers over $6 billion a year. These costs extend to the United States post office, which annually spends over $2 billion (US) to process and sort UAA mail. The huge environmental impact compounds the issue, accounting for more than six million trees and over 300 million pounds of paper.

Whereas it’s often assumed that “going green” requires a costly investment in additional infrastructure, efficiencies are often as simple as re-examining existing practices and using a little creativity. A new Melissa Data whitepaper outlines 10 simple steps to reduce the cost and environmental impact of mailing campaigns all while increasing response rates.

  1. Correct and Standardize addresses before they are entered into the CRM database [Read more…]

What are you printing on?

Joel Neuheimer, Director, Market Affairs at Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) answers some of our paper questions in this interview:

How much recycled content should I look for in my paper?

We recommend that buyers adopt a life-cycle approach as a guiding framework. While some issues may be more important than others, taking a single criterion approach to sustainable practices may not ensure long-term sustainability.

For example, a procurement policy needs to address products made with both recycled content and fresh fibre. This is important for a number of reasons. Any measurement of the environmental benefits of recycled fibre must consider whether waste paper has to be transported long distances or if brighter paper grades need additional processing. Life cycle assessment may show [Read more…]

Look around – there are office supplies everywhere!

Have you ever found a handful of pens under your couch? Or guiltily eyed a stack of paper in your recycle bin? Giving them new life as office supplies is green and saves money.  Here are a couple of ideas for reusing supplies:

– Pens: think about those hotel pens you bring home from conventions. Or the ones you find when you are packing to move.  You can bring them into the office and stock them in the supply cabinet (the Delta hotels ones are from me!)

 Notepads: instead of using new paper for quick notes or mapping out ideas, why not use the back of your printouts. If you’d like to get “extra fancy” you can cut them down to 5 x 7″ pieces and attach with a binder clip.

– Paperclips: have you even been annoyed by paperclips on old documents? They are great for reusing and are more green than staples (nevermind they don’t wreck your nails when removing them!)

– Plants: we all know the benefit of plants in the office. What about throwing a “house-warming” party for new team members and give a plant for their desk as a gift?  Or put leftover fresh herbs in a vase with   your  bamboo plant to clean up the air even more (not to mention a delicious way to spruce up your lunch!)

Got anymore ideas? Send them to the Green Team – we are working on a Green Your Desk campaign and would love to be able to share your ideas with your colleages.

Got lots of scrap paper around?

Softchoice had piles of obsolete invoice paper sitting around our office. The paper had something printed on one-side, but the other side was completely blank. Instead of putting it into the paper recycling bin, we decided to re-use it first! The paper was glued together and a cardboard backing put on…and voila!…we now had a pile of new notepads for the supply cabinet.

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