Sustainability has become a necessity nowadays and many companies and freelancers seek to reduce their carbon footprint and build more sustainable business practices. So why not make it your New Year resolution for 2020 to make your office more environment-friendly?

In your quest for a greener approach, it’s good to know that you can often make big improvements by implementing simple and inexpensive changes. One of the easiest and most efficient ways of conserving our planet’s resources is to reduce the office waste your company creates.

In offices, large amounts of waste can be generated without any real need to do so. For example, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the average American office worker generates about 2 pounds worth of paper and paperboard products daily and uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year. Paper and paperboard make up an estimated 70% of the total office waste, so cutting down on paper will considerably decrease your total office waste.

By consuming less paper, you help reduce not only deforestation, but also pollution and water consumption, because the paper and pulp industry is one of the most polluting industries (the third most polluting industry in the US and Canada) and it requires large quantities of water - 10 liters of water for a single sheet of paper, to be more exact.

Follow these 8 easy steps to a paperless office:

1. Write and store your documents digitally

In our digital world, there is no more need to write your documents on paper or to print your digital documents and store them in a filing cabinet. Instead it’s much easier and more secure to write them digitally and store them in the cloud. This way, you have access to them wherever you are, in the office, at home or visiting a customer.

2. Switch to online invoicing

Invoices are a great contributor to paper consumption, so why not switch to an online invoicing solution? Online invoicing tools such as invoicely are an easier, more sustainable and more secure way of creating, sending and storing your invoices and they offer multiple pricing plans, usually even a free basic account, so you can find a plan that best suits you financially.

3. Ask for digital files

In order to reduce the amount of paper in your office, you’ll need to ask your business partners to send you all documents such as contracts, invoices and other files in digital form.

4. Send all documents digitally

All the files you are still sending by post, like invitations, contracts or payslips can be sent digitally, either via email or, more securely, using a dedicated app.

5. Sort existing paperwork

In order to have a paperless office, you’ll need to thin out the existing stacks of documents that you have lying in your office. Sift through old paperwork and decide what can be put through the shredder. Don't forget to recycle!

6. Go for paperless meetings

Instead of giving out handouts at meetings, use projectors and other visual technology that convey the information you want to share.

7. Use digital business cards

Business cards, although necessary, require considerable amounts of paper. The good news is that you can solve this problem by digitizing your business card. There are lots of apps available that scan business cards and convert them to digital documents.

8. Reduce packaging

Encourage businesses that follow environment-friendly practices and buy products with the least amount of paper packaging.

Paper consumption is not only affecting the environment, but it also slows you down and clogs up your workplace. By making these small changes, you bring your contribution to a more sustainable future, while at the same time improving your productivity and decreasing your costs.