What is Sustainability?

triangle graphicSustainability is balancing financial resources with institutional needs while considering impacts on society and the environment. 

Why Sustainability at Downstate?

  • Saves cost through efficiency improvements
  • Conserve natural resources
  • Prevent pollution and reduce waste
  • Promote a healthy workplace and community
  • It is the right thing to do
  • It is mandated by the State

Paper Reduction

Paper reduction not only saves natural resources and lower office expenditure, it helps to reduce the volume of office paper that needs to be handled. The success of paper reduction very much depends on the commitment at senior level and active participation of both staff and students. In order to enhance their environmental awareness and to reduce paper waste, departmental management should consider to set up practical guideline on this matter.

The 3 E's: Economical, Environmental, Efficient

Are you a paper pusher? The typical workplace is hooked on the stuff, with some shocking statistics.

  • The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
  • The United States alone, which has less than 5% of the world's population, consumes 30% of the world's paper.
  • Over 40% of wood pulp goes toward the production of paper.
  • Printing and writing paper equals about one-half of U.S. paper production.
  • The costs of using paper in the office can run 13 to 31 times the cost of purchasing the paper in the first place!


You're probably thinking, "What's the big deal? My office doesn't spend much on paper." But what most people don't realize is that the cost of buying paper is just the tip of the paper iceberg. For each sheet of paper used, a company incurs not only purchasing costs, but also storage, copying, printing, postage, disposal, and recycling – and it adds up. A recent Minnesota study estimates that associated paper costs could be as much as 31 times the purchasing costs (not including labor). So, that ream of paper that you paid $5 for really could cost up to $155!

  • Citigroup, a large financial services company, determined that if each employee used double-sided copying to conserve just one sheet of paper each week, the firm would save $700,000 each year.
  • Bank of America cut its paper consumption by 25% in two years by increasing the use of on-line forms and reports, e-mail, double-sided copying, and lighter-weight paper.

Paper is an office necessity for some essential tasks, but it has an environmental cost. Creating paper from trees requires a lot of natural resources: trees, water, and energy.

  • It takes more than 1½ cups of water to make one sheet of paper. (Picture a typical soda can.)
  • Over 40% of wood pulp goes toward the production of paper.
  • Reducing paper use reduces greenhouse gases: 40 reams of paper is like 1.5 acres of pine forest absorbing carbon for a year.
  • Even with recycling efforts, paper makes up over 25% of Minnesota's garbage – we're throwing away a lot of resources!

Paperwork! It brings to mind filling out unnecessarily complicated forms. Electronic forms can now make that job easier and more efficient. Businesses that have converted to electronic forms and filing systems have found that it takes less time to both find and process information. This doesn't mean that electronic forms should replace all paper. In some instances, paper will be the best tool, but most businesses find that reducing their paper use increases their efficiency. Whenever we have fewer sheets of paper in our homes and offices, we spend less time looking for those that are misplaced or lost.

Tips for office paper reduction

Use both sides

Use the front and back of a piece of paper and cut your paper use and costs in half.

  • Set computer defaults to print double-sided.
  • Make double-sided copies when possible.
  • Give it a second chance: Use paper printed on only one side in your fax machine, for draft copies or internal documents, or as scratch paper.

Think before you print or copy

  • Sometimes it is necessary for documents to be printed. Print responsibly.
  • Preview documents before printing. Use the print preview to spot formatting errors and blank pages before you print. Proofread first, and use the spell/grammar tool to help avoid errors that can cause documents to be reprinted.
  • Print only the pages you need. If only a few pages of the document are needed, print only those pages instead of the whole report. Most software programs provide this option under the print function.
  • Promote a "think before you copy" attitude. Consider sharing some documents with co-workers. Print only the number of copies needed for the meeting, don't make extras.

Go electronic

  • Route memos and newsletters that employees should see, but do not need to keep. That way newsletters and other documents can be shared rather than copied.
  • Use revision features in word processing software. You can edit documents on screen instead of printing out drafts and making hand-written comments.
  • Send information electronically. Use e-mails instead of fax or mailed letters when possible. It's faster.
  • Fit more words onto each page (e.g., smaller font, narrower margins). Simply changing the default margins from 1.25" to 1" can reduce the amount of paper you use by up to 8%. Use a space-efficient font like Times New Roman.
  • Create an electronic filing system for quick, easy retrieval.

Keep forms and lists up-to-date

  • Reduce unwanted mail. Much of the marketing mail that your office receives is discarded immediately, and you foot the bill for recycling or disposal, not to mention the time it takes to sort and deliver mail. Cut down on the amount of unwanted mail by keeping your employees' names off of mail lists to begin with. (Reduce the Hail of Unwanted Mail)
  • Eliminate unnecessary forms. Sometimes documents become obsolete and are no longer needed. If forms are still needed consider making them electronic.

Close the loop on recycling

  • Recycle office paper. If your office doesn't recycle yet, start a recycling office paper program. It can save your organization money. Your county solid waste office can help.
  • Buy recycled-content paper, preferably made from paper pulp recycled without the use of chlorine.

Limit The Number Of Subscriptions To Periodicals

Limit the number of subscriptions to periodicals and share them with other offices, if feasible. This will reduce both subscription costs and paper waste. Furthermore, many publications are available in e-format these days. You may want to explore the possibility of replacing hard copy subscription by the electronic version.

Use Reusable Envelopes For Inter- Office Mail

Reuse your old envelopes whenever you can. For many internal communications, a reusable envelope is acceptable.

Be nice to your copier…

…and your copier will be nice to you. Keep copiers and printers in good repair and make it policy to only buy copiers and printers that make reliable double-sided copies. Let your copier maintenance person know when a copier is performing poorly (toner is low, jams frequently, etc.). Regular copier maintenance is important, especially if the toner is low. Copiers are often used until all the toner is gone and that wears down machines. A copier that works well is less likely to jam and this helps save paper!

Compound savings

Think about that 10-page, single-sided report you're dropping in the mail. You need an extra stamp, don't you? Take that same report and send it double-sided. Now you've cut your paper cost in half, and you don't need to pay the extra postage.