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USE SOURCE REDUCTION: Purchase Less, Save More


  • Use your computer to eliminate paper:
    • Write communications on letterhead templates in your word processing software.
    • Incorporate an always-up-to-date letterhead design on all your letters and eliminate outdated, leftover stock.
    • Print forms and memos directly from the computer instead of using pre-printed forms.
    • Preview database and spread sheet printouts on your screen to ensure best use of computer paper.
    • Send and receive faxes from your computer instead of using print-outs.
    • Use e-mail instead of memos and faxes.
    • Transfer documents on disk or through e-mail for editing and review.
    • Offer annual reports and major documents on disk to interested recipients.
    • Develop an Internet web page for frequently requested information.

  • Eliminate unnecessary copies on multi-part forms. Print instructions and necessary information on the back to eliminate pages.

  • Share:
    • Post messages on bulletin boards.
    • Use routing slips rather than individual copies.
    • Have several people edit the same copy of a document using different colored inks.

  • Paper Faxes:
    • Use plain paper faxes to eliminate the need to copy thermal faxes.
    • Use fax stick-on labels instead of cover sheets.
    • Program your fax to eliminate confirmation sheets.

  • Review distribution lists frequently.
    • Eliminate outdated or unnecessary destinations.
    • See if destinations with many recipients will route fewer copies instead.

  • Carefully calculate quantities to avoid excess which takes up storage space and may spoil.


  • Use two-way envelopes with self-contained enclosures. Saves paper, inventory, warehousing, handling, printing and labeling costs.

  • Use both sides of the sheet of paper, whether for copying or printing. (Check for high opacity on lighter weight printing sheets.)

  • Adopt double-sided billing for bills, applications, licenses, and other paper-intensive activities.

  • Consolidate forms.

  • Consolidate multiple checks to individual vendors and bills to individual customers. Also reduces envelope purchases.

  • Provide half-size sheets for short memos and letters.

  • Reduce printing paper basis weight. Saves both paper and postage costs.

  • Reduce size of printed piece (but make sure you don't increase the amount of trim waste created). Work with your printer and designer to determine the best size for maximizing use of parent sheets for printing.

  • Reduce font size and margins.

  • Purchase printers and copiers that can easily duplex. Program the defaults to double-sided.


  • Use the blank sides of unneeded single-sided copies for printing drafts.

  • Use inter-office envelopes with address lines on both sides, then put labels over them when they fill up and send them out again.

  • Reuse incoming envelopes in good condition for your own correspondence. Use large address labels to cover over the original information.


  • Reduce the paper grade by giving up a little brightness or opacity.
  • Use groundwood papers when appropriate. Make sure it can be recycled in your sytem.
  • Look for closeouts. Buy discontinued grades or odd-lot papers from job-lot wholesalers and discount paper suppliers.


  • Sell your recyclable wastepaper to offset higher recycled paper prices.
  • Invest source reduction savings in environmentally sound paper for the rest of your paper needs.
  • Enter into cooperative purchasing agreements with other agencies or jurisdictions.
  • Use paper specifications consistent with other large purchasers in your area so that distributors can bring in larger lots.

  • Adapted from "Source Reduction Opportunities," by Susan Kinsella and Nancy VandenBerg, in Resourceful Purchasing: A Hands-On Buyers Manual, by Markets for Recycled Products, for Alameda County (CA) Source Reduction and Recycling Board, April 1996.

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