Are you concerned about the massive amounts of paper your law firm uses each day? Do you creep through the halls at the end of the day turning off lights that were left burning long after attorneys and staff members went home? Would you like to learn more about how you can reduce your consumption and use resources responsibly? If you answered yes to any of these questions or if you are interested in learning how to create and promote a sustainable office environment, then NALS is here to help.
The NALS Green Guide was created to be an easy-to-read resource that can be easily shared electronically. The guide includes more than just recycling tips – inside you will also find information on greening your commute and reducing office expenses. You will also find that many of the tips can also be used in your home.
As of January 1, 2010, all computers, laptops, and monitors in Oregon must be e-cycled. The program is free and collection sites are open year-round. Keyboards, mice, scanners, printers, and other peripherals are not included in the program.
Before you e-cycle your laptop or computer, take care to remove confidential client information. Pull and destroy hard drives or wipe the hard drive clean using wiping software that meets Department of Defense standards.
For more information about Oregon E-Cycles, call the free e-cycling hotline 1-888-5-ECYCLE or visit the DEQ Web site.
Pursuing sustainability through green business practices is not only good for the environment – it can literally mean more green in your pocket. Getting started is easy. Review the tips below, take a fresh look around your office, and pick one or two ideas you can implement now. Bookmark others for the next time you need to replace a monitor or printer.
How Green is Your Internet?
Green your Web site by offering intake forms online. Clients will appreciate the convenience and so will you and your staff. Electronically filled intake forms are easy to read and easy to process – design the form to match the information gathered by your practice management software. Filling out the form in advance means more time to spend with the client when he or she comes into your office, and the money saved in printing and paper costs will add up. Caveat: E-mail intake forms directly to prospective clients or use a secure https:// connection. Proper disclaimers will prevent creation of a lawyer-client relationship where none is intended. See “Disclaimers for E-mail, ListServes, Usenets, Web Sites, and Newsletters,” www.osbplf.org, then Practice Aids and Forms, then Technology. Practice tip: Using Acrobat to extend features in Adobe Reader allows clients with Version 7 or later to use your online forms and save a local copy. In Acrobat, choose Advanced > Extend Features in Adobe Reader…
Online collaboration, document sharing, web, and video conferencing are increasingly popular. You and the client stay put – reducing your mutual carbon footprint – and meeting becomes convenient again. Read more about this practice at the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/fyidocs/ (see Web and Communication Technology).
Put the ultimate power of the Internet to work by accessing your office from home. Work remotely using www.LogMeIn.com, www.GoToMyPC.com, www.PCAnyWhere.com, Windows Desktop, or a Virtual Private Network. If your daily commute is 20 miles or more, you can easily save 1,000 miles in a year by telecommuting one day a week.
Make the Most of Your Monitor
Consider converting your old-style monitor to an energy-efficient flat screen LCD. Don’t worry if the purchase is not within your budget now. When your old monitor needs to be replaced, the newer models will be waiting. Check the Web sites of PC World and PC Magazine for reviews when you are ready to buy, www.pcworld.com and www.pcmag.com. If you are a Mac aficionado, use Google® to search the latest discussion threads and forums.
Install dual or oversize computer monitors to reduce printing costs. Nothing beats the convenience (or saves unnecessary print jobs) like being able to compare documents side-by-side. Dual monitors also mean you can keep a working document up on one screen while your calendar – or time and billing program – sits ready-to-use on the other screen.
Print Smart and Save Money
Greening your printing practices is one of the best moves you can make. Fewer print jobs means less paper, ink, chemicals, and plastics consumed. Consider these possibilities:
Share resources by networking your laser printers. Dedicated printers for each employee make it too easy to hit the “print” button.
Require employees to enter a security code before printing a job. Many printers have this feature, and it is widely used in financial and legal departments of companies where confidentiality must be protected. The “walk-to” feature eliminates waste in two ways – it makes employees think twice about whether they need to print and whether they want to walk to pick it up.
Use recycled paper. The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year, according to the Federal Network for Sustainability. No statistics exist for the average worker in a law office, but suffice to say the numbers are likely to be much higher. Start printing on recycled paper, reuse it, and recycle it again. (Be careful to protect confidentiality at the end-point of this process.)
Mandate double-sided printing, which Hewlett-Packard estimates can cut paper waste by 25 percent.
If a document flows slightly over to a second page, use the “shrink to fit” setting in your word processor’s Print Preview mode to shorten the document to one page. Note: Shrink to fit works by reducing font size, which may make reading difficult for some clients. If this is an issue, adjust margin settings instead.
Take advantage of the return and recycle programs for laser cartridges offered by manufacturers. See the directions printing on or inside the box of your new replacement cartridge.
Ditch your paper fax machine and use an e-fax service instead.
Or Just Don’t Print at All – Put the Power of Your Scanner to Work
For truly big savings, move toward going paperless. See “Is It Time To Go Paper-Less?” at www.osbplf.org, In Brief, then February 2009. Read more about this practice at the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center, http://www.abanet.org/tech/ltrc/fyidocs/ (see Law Office Technology: Software).
If feasible, add desktop scanners to supplement networked or centralized scanners.
Once you’ve integrated scanning into the work you do for clients, look for other ways to use this technology. For example, save a trip to the bank by scanning your checks straight into your business account using a service like www.DepositNow.com.
Buy Energy Star equipment and appliances whenever possible. Unplug equipment or power off when not in use – especially over the weekend. During the work week, set equipment to enter standby mode when unused for 10 or 15 minutes.
Replace standard light bulbs with compact fluorescents in desk lamps. If necessary, ask your property manager to do the same with overhead lighting. Building out new space or remodeling? Control lighting with motion sensors and timers for more savings.
Make recycling as easy as possible – everywhere you have a trash can, add a recycling bin. Don’t forget work rooms (near copiers and mail sorting) as well as lunch rooms.
Seek out green vendors for your other business needs.
Barter or “freecycle” the next time you need a desk, credenza, bookshelves, or another item for your office. The Freecycle Network™ is an international grassroots movement of over 6 million people who are “giving and getting stuff for free.” Visit http://www.freecycle.org/ for more information.
Get organized! Significant time, money, and energy are wasted buying supplies you already have, but can’t find. And while you’re at it, organize your office systems too. The practice management advisors at the PLF can help, www.osbplf.org, then Services (under Practice Mgmt Advisors).