Getting the Most Out of Your Office Consumables

irrefutable fact about working in an office based business is that a discomfiting amount of waste occurs with consumables and supplies. The office buyer orders too many stationery items which are forgotten and left to collect dust on the shelves. Custom designed letterheads bearing the company’s logos and listed partners go redundant after a rebranding or after one of those partners leaves. Your co-worker leaves his lunch in the fridge, doesn’t eat it owing to an overrunning meeting — leading to green fuzz growing all over the next few weeks.

While corporations boast about their waste reduction and environmentally friendly practices, individual employees still don’t possess the mindset for reusing or maximizing resources. Folks tend to squander consumables which they didn’t pay for or are readily available — which explains why it is exceedingly rare for pens and pencils to run out of ink or lead before they are lost. The following lists the ways YOU, the employee, can practice waste management at the individual level.

Be Ruthless in Reusing, Maxing Out and Double Siding Paper….

your business’s name hasn’t been added to a ‘no cold calling’ list, the fax machine is likely to be jammed packed with dozens of unsolicited advertisements for Viagra, auctions for impounded property and taxi services. Stacks of unwanted paper are produced whenever you print a document or article by mistake.

Rather than using new sheets of paper for the following jobs, the blank sides of junk faxes and duplicate print jobs can be substituted when:

• Writing down phone messages in a hurry

• Pasting address labels on boxes being sent out by post or courier

• Labelling for disposal the large pieces of garbage that don’t fit in the trash can

• Marking the doors of the room you reserved for a meeting or interview

Partnership firms are legally obliged to list all their partners on their branded letter head… and are burdened with boxes of unusable, non-returnable and costly stock when a new partner joins or a current one departs. Obsolete letterhead can be used pretty much the same way as junk faxes. If they’re still in boxes, they can be stacked to raise the height of computer monitors rather than shelling out $$$ for platforms.


part from paper, virtually anything else not displaying confidential information or stained with shit can be reused, maxed out or double sided….

• Envelopes whose glue has gone dry can still be used for containing trinkets or for concealing internal, hand delivered items… or you can just add glue to the flaps to seal them.

• Lever arch and other folders can be easily relabelled and used repeatedly after their original contents are archived or shredded.

• When words printed on paper start to fade, employees who are morbidly anxious about presentation hastily change the ink toner for a new one. Fading doesn’t necessarily mean the toner tank is empty. Rather, the toner just needs a little redistribution. Pulling out the toner tank and rocking it side to side can give you several more weeks of printing and save a significant amount of money. Just be wary of shaking the toner tank too hard unless you want to look like you were in a bar fight with a chimney sweep.

Be Your Own Stock Manager

common corporate benefit taken for granted by employees is the provision of free milk, sugar, coffee powder and tea bags for beverages. Milk is particularly ordered in large quantities and frequently pitched down the sink without a second thought when it expires — because employees aren’t paying for it.

All one must do to reverse this trend is to:

• Religiously open milk with the earliest sell by date;

• Arrange the milk bottles so that the earliest to expire is most likely to be opened first;

• Continue using milk past its expiry, because it’s still good for at least two days beyond.

The vicissitudes of constantly changing schedules and overrunning meetings means that workers often forget that they brought their own dinner to keep in the office fridge, which subsequently decays and grows its own bacterial civilization. The simplest remedy would be to schedule a reminder notice on one’s phone or email calendar.

Don’t Forget What You Already Have

ompanies frequently order assets for special occasions and annual events or buy appliances which are only beneficial for a specific need. Products as diverse as fans and portable air cons for the summer, name badge holders and lanyards for trade fairs, company branded stationery for the annual recruitment drive and the seat cushion for the employee with haemorrhoids who has since left.

Once the event or season is over, the excess is squirrelled away and forgotten in a wardrobe or even worse, shoved into the trash because the office doesn’t have enough room to store everything. Assets are more likely to be forgotten in huge organizations who have multiple branches across a region or country.

Events organizers and other involved parties can save money and assets by keeping tabs on items in an inventory chart, viewable to all relevant users, which can be checked the next time a trade fair or office occasion requires their use. Organizers for an alumni party may find they only need to buy 3 boxes of name badge holders rather than 10 if they were reminded of the leftovers from the last year’s exhibition, or the office manager may find that there’s a spare microwave in the store room which hasn’t been used since the second kitchen in the building got converted into an office space.

Ink Toner Tanks Can Be Returned

your co-workers are dunking empty ink toners into the trash, your company may be violating laws concerning the safe disposal of toxic materials. Even if you’re a right winger who scorns environmental protection as a liberal cause that’s constraining the growth of the national economy, fines are a pecuniary burden which cross partisan beliefs.

Most ink toner manufacturers encourage users to send back empty tanks to a designated address for refilling, with no prepaid address labels provided. The packaging from your new ink tank can be used to send the empty to that address.

Your office supplier company may even take back empty toners and other types of re-useable assets — all you got to do is phone your account manager if they have such a service.

Exploit All Freebies

ave you ever left a trade fair burdened with goody bags stuffed with pens, pencils, sticky notes, calendars and of course, lanyards bearing the logos of the dozens of exhibiting businesses? If you could be entirely honest, did any of these items get used or were they get dumped in a corner to become dust collectors?

It should be obvious that pens and pencils can be absorbed into your workplace’s supply pool rather than lying forgotten in your drawer. If you have multiple calendars you can’t use by yourself, scatter them amongst your co-workers or place them in the boardrooms.

The author still hasn’t figured out a practical way to re-use branded lanyards — you wouldn’t use one in your own home even if you converted it to require key cards for entry right?

Dysfunctional middle aged man. Biographer on weapons of death.

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