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Reduce waste

Reduce paper

Always print double-sided and only print when necessary

  • Reuse single sided discards or make two-sided photocopies and printouts
  • Make double-sided printing the default setting on all printers
  • When copying, make a one sided original into a two sided copy
  • There are several new copiers on the market which feature duplex printing. Your older copier may do this too. For a listing of duplex printers, see

Avoid using title pages and fax cover sheets; especially the Athena cover page when printing a document to an Athena printer.

Format class materials, published documents and handouts to use the smallest amount of paper possible and always print and copy them double-sided. To reduce the pages per document, increase the margins on the "page set up" function in Word. This technique can also be used when printing web content. Instead of printing out an entire web page, which can take several pages of paper, cut and paste only the text you need onto a word document. Decrease the font and print double-sided!

Become a paperless office

Use online forms in SAP and ECAT to reduce "paper pushing."

From CAO: Summary Statements and DTR's for cost objects with no activity in the current period and cost objects with the EVP organization are no longer being printed centrally, reducing the volume of printed monthly statement reports by 15,000 each month! Contact CAO if you receive statements that are not current.

Proof documents on the computer screen before printing them out.

Save documents electronically instead of printing out and filing a paper copy.

Design a webpage to relay frequently asked for information. Update it often.

Scan hard copies of documents and save as PDFs or other electronic file formats to use in emails and MIT Stellar Course Management System.

Use email to send or receive faxes, and avoid printing them out ( Program your fax to eliminate cover and confirmation sheets. If you need a fax confirmation, print out an activity report after sending several faxes instead of a confirmation page after a single fax.

Other ways to reduce waste at work

Use reusable coffee mugs and water glasses rather than disposable cups.

Ask your caterer to reduce packaging, disposables, and paper products. Reuse surplus supplies rather than buying new ones.

Reduce your use of (non-recyclable) polystyrene (Styrofoam). When picking up take out, ask for alternatives to polystyrene, such as biodegradable or recyclable containers, or bring a reusable container.

The Equipment Exchange and Storage Warehouse offers storage to MIT Departments, and also reuses surplus lab, computer, and office furniture. There is no charge for items that are transferred back on campus. You must arrange for your own transportation and/or moving. For more information, contact Michael F. McCarthy, Property Manager at x3-2779 or . The Property Office can also help when there is a move, relocation or major cleanup. Contact Ken McLaughlin at x8-8475 or if you have surplus office furniture resulting from a move.

Reduce waste at home

When possible, buy in bulk. Reduce wasteful packaging and containers by reusing existing glass or plastic containers by refilling them. Harvest Co-op in Central Square, Cambridge has an excellent bulk selection. Before you fill your container, have it weighed at the check out.

Drink spring water at home or in the office? Instead of generating an endless supply of single serving water bottles, install a faucet water filter and use reusable glasses. compares the top water filters for faucets, showers, and the entire house.  Another good selection of kitchen faucet water filters can be found at Or use a home delivery service and the refillable 5-gallon jugs with refillable water bottles.

"Paper or Plastic?" "Neither!" Use a reusable tote bag or backpack for errands and groceries.

Turn the Tide is an innovative program that Americans are using to make a difference for our environment. The website outlines nine simple actions you can take and instantly shows the positive impact of each reported action. None of Turn the Tide's nine actions involve drastic changes in your life, yet each packs an environmental punch. In fact, every thousand participants prevent the emission of 4,000,000 pounds of climate-warming carbon dioxide every year.