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Sustainability at Work

Providing free tools and expertise to achieve your goals

Phone: 503-823-7037

Email: sustainabilityatwork@portlandoregon.gov

Give your filing cabinets the pink slip

The owner of Portland’s One Inch Round digitized operations and saw cost savings, easier customer transactions and less paper use.

Fire your filing cabinetsIn 2009, Scott Hay gave his filing cabinets the pink slip. The owner of One Inch Round, a SE Portland custom button and magnet manufacturer, was fed up with the time he and his staff spent dealing with paper—opening bills, printing invoices and organizing every piece of paper into overfull filing cabinets. The more successful his business grew, the worse the paper problem became.

To address the problem, Scott researched digital alternatives and found solutions to nearly every aspect of his operations. Now he reaps the benefits of going paperless with time saved, costs reduced, efficient transactions and the enjoyment of knowing his company is having less of an impact on the environment.

Pointers for going paperless, from One Inch Round’s Scott Hay

Why go paperless?

Scott recognized the need to digitize One Inch Round’s paper systems based on the amount of time (and money) that was spent by staff to find documents, open envelopes and file paperwork. He was also running out of space. If they continued with a paper system, he would have to add more filing cabinets to his existing five but he had no place to put new cabinets. He was also concerned about losing important paper documents if there was ever a fire.

Two key steps to setting up a paperless office

Scott started by converting their five filing cabinets to an online, cloud-based document storage system. This offered more office space after removing the cabinets as well as peace of mind knowing these documents would be protected in case of fire or other unexpected disasters.

The next step was to purchase scanners so the company could upload paper files and documents they received from outside sources and vendors. “We recommend Dropbox or Google Drive for storage and the FUJITSU ScanSnap for scanning,” said Scott. By converting paper records into searchable PDF files with the scanners, One Inch Round can save all of their company documents in a searchable PDF format and control sharing of documents within Dropbox. Any document can be easily retrieved from any computer.

Follow every paper trail

Scott looked at every area of One Inch Round’s operations where paper was being used, and found paperless solutions for each. These solutions have provided benefits beyond paper reduction, including faster and easier access to information for customers and staff.

  • Customers and Staff Rather than filling out paper order forms, customers and staff members enter orders directly into the website. Once the order is in, each customer receives a link to check the status of their order, which is tracked in real-time. Customers who receive invoices are notified that they will be receiving a PDF invoice via email rather than a paper copy.
  • Paychecks There was some initial resistance, but Scott said, "Once staff signed up for access to their pay stubs via the companies ADP Payroll employee portal, they were very happy with the ease and ability to access to their earning records online."
  • Project tracking Scott was able to streamline project tracking while supporting another Portland business: “We manage projects and track meeting notes through a software program called Producteev, made by Portland’s Jive Software,” said Scott.
  • Marketing One Inch Round made their full product catalogue for their "Badge Bomb" brand available online. While they still print some copies, they’ve reduced their bi-annual catalog printings by 500 catalogues, 25,000 pieces of paper and shipping charges.

Paperless is becoming the norm

Scott highly recommends going digital. “It saves you money, it makes retrieving documents easier and it’s better for the environment,” he said. “When we started transitioning to paperless in 2009, we saw some resistance to paperless transactions, like emailing a PDF invoice, but it’s becoming the norm more and more. It’s good business for everyone,” said Scott.

One Inch Round is Sustainability at Work Silver certified – learn more about their sustainability practices in their Green Business Directory listing.

Three ways to trim your waste in 2016

Lose the water weight, trim down paper towel use and drop those disposables.

Set some New Year’s goals for your workplace! Here are some great places to start:

1. Lose the water weight.

Bottled water vs tap water

Does your workplace provide bottled water or use a water delivery service? Switch to tap water and you’ll be doing the environment, and your bottom line, a favor.

Don’t like the taste of your tap water? Installing a filter on your tap is a good alternative to having water trucked in.

2. Trim down paper towel use.

Cut down on paper towels

Many workplace trash cans are filled with paper towels, especially in the rest room and break room. Paper towels can’t be recycled or composted, and even if they could, using less would still be best for the environment and for cost savings.

Replacing paper towels with high-efficiency hand dryers is another great option. Learn why and how to make the switch.

3. Drop those disposables.

Ditch disposables

Disposable coffee cups, take-out boxes and plastic cutlery are like junk food – they’re quick and easy, but not that great for you (or the environment).

Thankfully, there are a lot of things you can do to cut down on disposable items. Use re-usable water bottles and coffee mugs, and take as little to-go packaging as possible when eating out.

At work, you can do even more:

We’re here to help your workplace keep its New Year’s resolutions!

Contact us to make a plan, troubleshoot challenges or share your success.

When is "compostable" not compostable?

Items labeled "compostable" or "biodegradable" should go in the trash, not in your compost bin.

To-go packagingWhat should you do with an item labeled "compostable" or "biodegradable?"

Put it in the trash.

Confused?

We know.

Labels like "compostable" and "biodegradable" are well-intentioned, but they’re not always accurate. Many products labeled "compostable" or "biodegradable" don’t break down at our local composting facilities.

Compostable and biodegradable products should also never be put in recycling, as they cause major problems for the recycling industry. We know it’s hard to throw things away, but that’s where all take-out items (to-go boxes, cups, utensils) should go.

To keep our regional composting program running, we need to keep it clean, and that means focusing on the food. And food should be the focus – it’s what gives compost the nutrient-rich punch that makes gardens grow.

FAQs about composting

Q: What do I do with items labeled "compostable" or "biodegradable," like take-out containers, cups and utensils?

A: These items go in your garbage container, not in compost or recycling. This is true both at home and at businesses that sell or serve food.

Learn more:

  • What goes in your compost cart at home.
  • What goes in your compost at work.

Q: But I thought compostable products were the greenest option? Now what?

A: The greenest option is the one that’s used over and over again. Re-useable coffee mugs, water bottles and real dishware and utensils are environmentally better than their throw-away counterparts, even if the throw-away items could be recycled or composted. Just think of all the energy and resources that go into making something that only gets used once!

Encourage your favorite restaurants to switch to re-usable dishware and utensils for eat-in orders. For to-go orders, take away as little packaging and paper as possible. Bring your own coffee mug, and ask your local coffee shop to offer discounts for bringing your own mug.

Learn more:


Q: What happens to food scraps from businesses?

Food waste converted to energy

A: Most of the food scraps from Portland businesses are processed in a facility in Lane County that generates electricity from the food scraps before they are turned into fertilizer.

This facility does not accept yard debris or other non-food items like paper products or cups, containers or utensils (even if they're labeled compostable). That’s why many local businesses have moved to collecting just food scraps.

How does food turn into energy? Watch two kids explain it in under 3 minutes:

JC Biomethane for Kids from Kelly Lyon Photography on Vimeo.

Already composting at your business or want to start?

Find more composting FAQs, how-to information for restaurants and offices, and Food Only posters and stickers here.

Questions? Contact us at 503-823-7037 or by email.

 

Getting bottled water delivery? Consider the tap.

Save money and environmental impact by switching from water delivery to tap water.

 

bottled water dispenserWhen visiting businesses, our sustainability advisors sometimes see bottled water dispensers in break rooms and kitchens. Some offices choose to have water delivered out of concern for the quality of their tap water. Others like the ability to get hot water on demand. Some simply reply, “We’ve always had bottled water service.” Whatever the reason, it’s important to think about the impact and expense of your decision.

Environmental costs

There’s an environmental cost involved with manufacturing the bottles, as well as with transporting bottled water to and from your workplace on a regular basis. There’s also the expense of paying for a service twice: delivery of water through your taps and delivery of water by truck.  

Water quality

If you’re worried about the quality of your tap water, have it tested rather than make assumptions. Portland has some of the best water in the country, but the quality and taste can be affected by a number of factors. Portland’s Water Bureau will mail your business a free kit that lets you test for lead, copper and iron in your water. (Request the kit by calling 503-823-7525.) You’ll have results in 4-6 weeks to both inform your decision and share with staff. There are also private companies that, for a fee, will test for a broader range of contaminants. However, not all labs are accredited to test for all contaminants.  Details about accredited labs can be found at the Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program.

Options for filtered water

If you decide you still want or need filtered water, you have options other than having it delivered by truck. Consider installing a filter directly to your faucet or to the water line under your sink. If you prefer having a floor or counter-top dispenser, there are models that can be plumbed directly into your building’s water supply. In addition to filtering the water on site, many of these dispensers also have a hot-water feature. If you currently contract with a water delivery vendor, check with them about options for dispensers that use your tap water instead.  A number of companies offer both types of service.

Reusable metal water bottlesDitching disposables

Whatever solution you settle on, don’t forget to encourage employees to use durable bottles and glasses rather than paper cups. Regardless of whether you can reduce the energy impact of bottled water, you can reduce waste generated through disposable cups!