How to Quickly Reduce Paper Consumption With Online Forms

Written by Formstack on April 17, 2014

Posted in Form Hacks

In honor of Earth Month, Formstack has a pretty exciting activity planned to help green our community and help you become more environmentally-conscious as well. Tune into the blog next week to learn more about our Earth Day efforts. In the meantime, check out this blog post about the realities of office paper consumption and what you can do to quickly reduce your carbon footprint. 

Here at Formstack, we like trees. They give us oxygen, and they sometimes have food on them. We’re still crossing our fingers that someone will invent a bacon tree someday. And, let’s be honest, after the winter we’ve had in Indiana, just seeing a tree with leaves on it is a miracle to behold. However, trees make paper, and people LOVE paper. With Earth Day right around the corner, we want to remind you that keeping trees on the ground is way better than keeping them on your desk.

The Problem:
On our beautiful planet, we use more than 1 million tons of paper A DAY. That’s projected to increase to 500 million tons a year by 2020. These numbers may sound crazy, but think of all of the products you use at work that involve paper: packaging, magazines and newspapers, graphic and office papers, cups and utensils, and yes, even those little sticky notes you love so much.

In the United States alone, each American uses almost 6 trees a year (40-foot trees to be exact!) in paper products. While we often blame paper homework and exams as the culprit, school administrators are part of the paper chase too. Higher education offices mail hundreds of acceptance letters, financial aid packets, and glossy recruitment brochures – that might just go straight into the trash can – every day.

The corporate workplace is just as much to blame for this paper frenzy. Supply request forms, job applications, and office-wide news fliers are just a few examples of the “need” for paper in the office. Not to mention the printing, printing, and more printing of paperwork you want to have in your hand rather than on your computer screen.

The Solution:
Although Formstack can’t help with the paper cups and napkins of the world, online forms can be your answer to reducing the amount of paper you use everyday.

60 percent of school waste is from paper, and it’s safe to say most of it is preventable. (Sorry kiddos, that doesn’t mean we’re suggesting that schools take away tests and final exams.) However, online forms are a great substitution for many higher ed needs. Here are just a few examples of common paper forms that can easily be transferred online:

  • Online quizzes
  • Course evaluations
  • Admission applications
  • Appointment requests
  • Event registration forms
  • Scholarship applications
  • Alumni donation forms

Schools like the University of Michigan have found countless ways to use Formstack, along with some of the options listed above, to not only become more time-efficient, but also cut down on the need for paper.

Don’t work in higher education? You’re not off the hook. The average employee uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year. However, many of our customers build forms that eliminate the need for paper altogether:

  • Job applications
  • Contact forms
  • Customer/client surveys
  • Supply request forms
  • PTO request forms
  • Contracts (huzzah for electronic signatures!)

Prevent Lost Customer Opportunity
Not only do online forms help your office become more sustainable, but they reduce the risk of accidentally losing valuable information. According to the Paperless Project, each lost document costs a company at least $350. Ouch. The best thing about using online forms instead of paper is that the data is collected virtually as well. So once you start to receive submissions, all of the information is stored in your Formstack account, reducing the risk of losing a valuable document or spending hours manually entering data into a spreadsheet.

So, really, save a tree. It’s best for the environment and also for your office data. Any questions or feedback? Let’s chat in the comments below. Now you can say bye bye to paper … and paper cuts. Those things are awful!