Good environmental office solutions can take a long time to implement successfully, which is why it might be more effective to gradually reduce the amount of paper you use than set an unrealistic goal early on. You don’t have to banish all paper goods from the workplace to keep waste levels in your company down, but you should try to limit paper use to the most necessary situations.

According to facts from the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, the United States uses around 3.7 million tons of copy paper every year, and paper products make up 40 percent of total waste. Even when offices recycle, a great deal of paper space that could have been used gets lost. While electronic devices help to lower the need for so many things to be written down or printed, simply switching over to these systems all at once isn’t often practical or feasible.

A piece from the Calaveras Enterprise, a California news source, reports that not every internal message needs to be put down on paper, for example. Using emails judiciously helps companies replace paper use in an easy, everyday way.

“Sometimes office directives or memos must be printed, but such notices that will only circulate internally need not be printed to appear like documents that will be shared with clients or other companies,” the article advises. “When circulating internal memos, first ensure they cannot be emailed. If they can, opt for emailing instead of printing out copies to be left on employees’ desks.”

Once put into place, a “strategic paper use” program could lead to greater paper savings over time and shrink your business’ carbon footprint. The path to a greener office can therefore be an evenly paced endeavor.