Considering the pace at which the environment
is changing and the mounting scientific evidence showing man as
a contributing factor, the phrase “Think globally, act locally”
has never carried as much weight. People around the globe are realizing
their obligation to contribute to the improvement of their surrounding
Corporations, long in the sights of environmental groups, have a
big role to play in this green push, and many are doing a great
deal. However, large corporations are not alone. Small businesses,
which comprise the largest and fastest-growing segment of the global
economy, are also doing their part. Groups such as the Center for
Small Business and the Environment have developed many environmental
processes and programs such as the Green Gazelles project to raise
If you think a small business can’t make a big impact, think
again. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, businesses
with fewer than 500 employees represent 99.9 percent of all U.S.
companies. Of the 25.8 million companies in America, just 17,000
are considered large. When a group this big takes similar actions
individually, they collectively make a tremendous and swift impact.
While much progress has been made, much more needs to be accomplished
around the globe to conserve energy and reduce waste, as well as
improve efficiency and productivity. According to the Michigan Department
of Environmental Quality, a typical office generates about 1.5 pounds
of wastepaper per employee each day, with the majority a result
of single-side copying and printing. By simply selecting to print
on both sides of a sheet of paper, businesses will conserve storage
space and reduce handling costs, and eliminate up to 50 percent
of their paper waste.
Another way to cut down on paper usage and increase productivity
is to introduce workflow technologies through copier and printer
devices. While capabilities vary by manufacturer, most sophisticated
multifunction products (MFPs) come with workflow capabilities, including
scan-to-network and scan-to-e-mail functions. These features allow
workers to scan documents directly into their inboxes. As a result,
paper usage and energy consumption is reduced, and worker productivity
is increased. By simply changing the way they manage documents,
workers can help the environment and use fewer energy resources.
Take a hard look at your current peripheral network. Documents are
created, copied, printed, scanned and faxed on a daily basis. Many
offices have a variety of individual machines to handle these tasks,
each consuming thousands of kilowatts of energy per year. By replacing
such stand-alone office products with a single multifunction system
that copies, scans and prints, 700 kWh could be saved annually.
By consolidating these products, you’re saving energy and
increasing office space, which could result in savings on lease
and service agreements. In fact, energy savings can double if the
multifunction system replaces products that are not Energy Star
qualified. Small steps really do make a difference. By incorporating
procedures to reduce, reuse and recycle, offices of any size can
help improve the health of the environment one step at a time.
Jim Rise is the vice president and general manager of the Solid
Ink Products Business Unit for Xerox Corporation.