As an office manager, I am responsible for the daily incoming mail deluge. When I started this position in September, the stack of mail consisted mostly of catalogs and sales post cards. To add to the problem, most of the catalogs were mailed to multiple people in the office, most of whom didn’t even work here anymore. It makes me cringe to think of how many of these catalogs were needlessly printed, mailed, then tossed out; even though my office does recycle paper. I made it my mission to reduce the amount of paper flowing into our office, beginning with the first week that I was here.

To implement a paper reduction strategy in your own office, begin by holding on to the daily mail that you already receive. Distribute what’s necessary to the appropriate people, but hold all mail that is addressed to people no longer employed with the company to assess. Send out an email to all current staff members letting them know that you are working on reducing the daily paper flow and want to make sure that only what is relevant and useful gets to them. Making people feel like their time is important will encourage them to cooperate with you more at this point in the process.

Once people start returning unwanted mail (preferably with a note so that it’s clear that it is unwanted, not just misplaced), separate the stacks so that you can call one company and cancel all mail from them, then move on to the next and so on, to minimize the amount of phone calls to be made. Phone calls are better than faxes, as you can confirm that a human has received your message. Not faxing also saves another piece of paper from useless printing, as a confirmation page won’t have to be printed. Be sure to thank the customer service representative for their help, and assure them that you will refer to the company’s website for any future needs that your office may require.

A lot of these companies will tell you that their materials are printed up to six months in advance, so you may receive another few mailings from them. It is a matter of personal preference whether or not to trust that they put the cancellation request through and not call back; or to call the company every time a catalog comes in and request removal. It depends on how much time, and trust you have in a company to honor your request. The website, which is maintained by the Direct Marketing Association looks to be a reputable organization that is committed to helping businesses and households manage their direct wishes regarding direct marketing. According to their website, they require their members to respect customer’s choices of whether or not they wish to receive mailings.

Any step towards paper reduction in your office is a positive step, so there’s no need to throw everyone for a loop and overhaul the entire paper process at once. Stay tuned for more steps on how to reduce the office paper flow in the future!