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Three Bad Printing Habits That Waste A Lot Of Paper – And What Office Managers Need To Do About Them

Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Uncategorized |

The average American office worker gets through 10,000 sheets of copy paper every year, which equates to 4 million tons. Despite their attempts to switch to paperless working, some companies still struggle to cut down on unnecessary waste, and office workers’ bad printing habits are a big part of the problem. However, with robust processes, tools and controls, you can slash the amount of paper waste your office workers produce. Learn more here.

Misuse of headed paper

When you need to send out important correspondence to your customers, it’s often important to use headed paper, but this specific type of stock can often lead to paper wastage. For example, if people load headed paper in the printer the wrong way or even put the paper in the wrong feed tray, people will print documents incorrectly, which ultimately ends up with unnecessary waste.

Make sure your people know how to use headed paper. Put instructions (with pictures if necessary) above the printer to show people how to load headed paper in the right tray, the right way. Set up clear guidelines for when people should use this type of paper, and don’t leave expensive letterhead stock lying around that people may lazily or absent-mindedly use instead of plain paper.

You may even decide to restrict access to headed paper to a few key teams or people, but you may need better technology to do this. Managed print services can help you eliminate unnecessary prints on headed paper, and with the right access controls to specialist printing like this, you can also cut the risk of financial fraud. For example, money laundering and advance fee scams often rely on correspondence that carries an official letterhead, so you need strict access controls to this valuable consumable.

Failure to use print settings correctly

Standard office software programs like Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word include a range of standard and advanced printer settings to help users create the documents they need. User print settings often include the following:

  • Choice of color or black and white prints.
  • Page set-up to allow a fit to one page.
  • Addition of margins or frames on a page.
  • Single or double-sided printing.

If users make a mistake with these (and other) settings, the resulting document is likely to go in the trash. As such, it’s vital that you find ways to give workers access to guidance and training that will help them get their printing right first time. For example, workers will find it useful if you set up hints and tips documents on your intranet page.

You should also talk to your system administrator about the print settings you can control. For example, it’s a good idea to restrict everyone to double-sided prints, and you can normally apply this setting centrally in standard office software programs.

Excess print copies for business meetings

Poor planning often means that people print far too many copies of office documents for meetings. For example, by assuming that every attendee in a presentation needs a paper copy of the slides, your workers can literally waste hundreds of sheets in one session. When you think about how many meetings people attend, you can see how that level of wastage can quickly escalate.

It’s important to instill the right behaviors for people attending or facilitating meetings. With a bit of planning, it’s easy to adopt paper-free or reduced paper options for business meetings. Ideas to consider include the following:

  • Encouraging the use of laptops during meetings, where people can view documents electronically on their screens.
  • Instilling a paper ban in meetings, enabled through the use of overhead projectors to present slides to all attendees.
  • Implementing software that offers a real-time screen sharing option for people in meetings.
  • Cloud-based software that allows people to collaborate on and view the same document in real-time, without printing off copies to look at.

It often takes time to get people to adopt these new working practices. Digital champions around the office can give your workers a point of contact for queries and ideas, as well as a willing group of people who will communicate changes and updates.

Office workers waste a lot of paper, but it may fall to you as the office manager to do something about it. Talk to a managed print services supplier or click here for info about other tools that you could consider.

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4 Fun Ways To Put Your Used Packing Materials To Work

Posted by on Mar 8, 2016 in Uncategorized |

If you were extra careful to pack your important items for moving or shipping in strong, lightweight, shock-absorbing materials, you may now be wondering what are you supposed to do with all those boxes and fillers. You don’t have to clutter your garage with this stuff, nor do you have to throw it wastefully away. Here are four fun and interesting ways to repurpose your packing materials.

1. Foam Peanuts

Foam packing peanuts do a great job of cushioning oddly-shaped items that might otherwise jostle around inside their boxes. Unfortunately, they’re a lot less convenient once they’re out of the box. Foam peanuts consist mostly of air, which may make them exceptionally light but also makes them relatively bulky. Unless you relish the thought of keeping a giant bag of the stuff in your closet or polluting the nearest landfill, you need to come up with some clever place to put your peanuts — and your garden just might be the perfect spot.

Are the packing peanuts your shipping company uses made of corn-based starch instead of polystyrene? If so, then they’re biodegradable, and that means you can use them as compost. This product will return to Mother Earth naturally and safely, providing raw material for your flowers and plants. But even if the foam peanuts are made of polystyrene, your green thumb can still put them to useful work. Place them in the bottom of your planters as a cheap, lightweight method for improving the planters’ drainage.

2. Corrugated Boxes

Cardboard is a staple material of the packing and shipping world, and for good reason. This lightweight, strong, versatile material can take on a wide range of sizes and forms. Corrugated boxes are especially useful — and not just for packing and shipping. The characteristic wavy sheet comes in several different sizes of waves, or flutes, which provide varying degrees of strength and flexibility. The kind most commonly used in standard packing and shipping applications is called single wall board. This material has a layer of fluting sandwiched between rigid inner and outer boards. You can also get moving boxes made of double wall or even triple wall corrugated cardboard.

What makes corrugated boxes so useful after you’ve used them for your move or shipment? The air trapped inside the fluting serves as an effective thermal insulator, slowing the transmission of heat or cold between the inside and outside of the box. The thicker the corrugated cardboard, the more insulating power it possesses. Cut pieces off of your boxes and tape them around door frames, windows, vents and any other parts of your home that are permitting air to leak through.

3. Wine Crates

If you used wooden wine or liquor crates to ship your prized beverage collection, you know how reassuring it is to have bottles safely secured by these robust open-ended boxes. But once the bottles have been moved to the bar or cellar, you’ll find that the crates can still serve a variety of useful purposes in an eye-catching way. One of the simplest applications is to hang them on the wall as shelves or bookcases. You can paint the crates in complementary colors to match your interior decor or leave the natural wood for a more rustic appearance.

Cyclists may enjoy using a wooden wine crate as a simple, convenient storage option on their bike’s front or rear rack. You can attach a crate of the appropriate size by strapping it to the rack with a bungee cord or zip ties. It’s a good idea to paint apply a coat of varnish to the crate (and let it dry) before attaching it, especially if you store your bike outdoors or ride in damp conditions.

4. Bubble Wrap

Some people like keeping bubble wrap around after it’s done its job as a packing material because they enjoy popping the little air-filled pockets. Sadly, the redesigned version of this popular product no longer pops — but that doesn’t mean you can’t get some other interesting post-move uses out of it.

The air pockets in bubble wrap are there primarily to protect fragile objects from external impacts that might damage them. You can use this protective property to keep fruits and vegetables from coming to harm on your next shopping trip. Simply line the inside of your grocery bag with strips or sheets of bubble wrap and you’ll never have to worry about bruising the produce during the trip home.

The trapped air inside those pockets is also an effective insulator, just as the air inside corrugated cardboard reduces the transmission of thermal energy. That’s another great reason to line your grocery bags with it. Your hot or cold goods will maintain their temperature longer (assuming, of course, that you pack hot and cold items in separate bags) and you won’t be in such a rush to get home.

These are just a few of the many fascinating ways you give packing materials a useful, efficient second life of sorts. Ask your local packing and shopping provider for even more enlightening ideas to get the most out of these items! For more information about packing materials, consider websites like

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4 Smart Tips For Finding The Best Mattress For Chronic Back Pain

Posted by on Feb 1, 2016 in Uncategorized |

If you have chronic low back pain, you understand the struggle when it comes to finding a comfortable mattress. When back pain is a daily issue, it seems that any type of mattress makes it worse. You wake up feeling like you have lain awake on a concrete floor all night. There is a mattress out there that can give you a good night’s sleep. Here are some tips to help you find it.

Ask For an In-Home Trial

An in-home trial is something is that many mattress stores offer but don’t always advertise. It’s definitely something that people with chronic low back pain should take advantage of. It’s difficult to know which type of mattress will work for you. You won’t know for sure until you sleep on it all night for about a week. Some people with low back pain do better with firm mattresses, while others do better with soft mattresses. If you get the wrong type, you could end up with worse pain than you had before you went mattress shopping.

Consider an Adjustable Mattress

Adjustable beds are always a great option for people with lower back pain. You can find beds that adjust from firm to soft and also adjust inclines like a hospital bed. With an adjustable bed, you won’t have to worry about it not being comfortable for you. If you sleep with a spouse or partner, you won’t have to worry about one of you not liking the mattress either. Most of these mattress adjust separately on each side, so you can both find the comfort that you need. If your pain changes often, this could be the perfect bed for you, because you can adjust the bed to relieve whatever particular pain you are having that night.

Don’t Put Too Much Stock in Science

If you decide to read studies about the best mattresses for chronic pain, take everything with a grain of salt. Chronic pain is an umbrella term for people with chronic conditions that cause them constant pain. Therefore, 10 people with chronic pain could all have completely different medical conditions. Someone with bursitis in their hips is not going to be comfortable in the same manner as someone with herniated discs in their spine. Another problem with studies about mattresses and chronic pain is that many of them contradict each other. For years, scientists said firm mattresses reduced lower back pain. In 2003, many scientists and came out and said medium mattresses were actually better and to ditch the firm ones. Now, you can find many memory foam mattresses that form to the contours of your back, which may end up being what you need to reduce the pain.

Talk to Your Doctor

If you’re still worried about purchasing the wrong mattress, talk to your doctor. Ask your doctor if he or she thinks your specific type of pain could benefit from a pillow top, a memory foam, or something else entirely. Your doctor may be able to tell you what type of bed can help relieve your pain and help you rest easy.

The best mattress for chronic back pain is a subjective matter. In the end, it depends on your personal preference. Some people hate memory foam mattresses while others experience a large reduction of pain after using one for a couple of weeks. Just make sure, whatever you get, you give it time to conform to your body. Sometimes getting a new mattress will increase your pain for the first week or two while your body adjusts, and then you will feel better than you did before you bought it.

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5 Things Homeowners Need to Know About Urine-diverting Toilets

Posted by on Jan 7, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Drought is a major concern in the western United States, and with water in short supply, homeowners need to do everything they can to conserve water. The average American family flushes 27% of their household water down the toilet, so if you want to save water, you can start there. Standard flush toilets aren’t the only option any more, and replacing them with urine-diverting toilets can help you save water. Here are five things you need to know about urine-diverting toilets.

What are urine-diverting toilets?

Urine-diverting toilets are an alternative toilet type that were designed to use less water. They look similar to the standard flush toilets that you’re used to, except that the bowl is split into two compartments instead of just one.

The urine is collected in the front portion of the bowl, while the feces is collected in the back portion. Both bowls have their own flush mechanism, drain, and pipes. The two compartments are designed to catch waste where it naturally falls, so you can sit on it the same way as you sit on your existing toilet.

How do they use less water?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, standard flush toilets use 1.6 gallons of water per flush. This same amount of water is used regardless of the contents of the toilet bowl, which is unnecessary.

With urine-diverting toilets, the urine and solids collection bowls are flushed separately. Gravity drains the urine collection bowl, and afterwards, about 0.05 gallons of water is used to rinse the bowl and prevent odors. The solids collection bowl is flushed with about one gallon of water, though some models use even less.

Since people typically urinate more frequently than they defecate, this nearly-waterless urine flush saves a lot of water.

How are urine-diverting toilets installed?

Since urine-diverting toilets have two separate bowls and two drains, they require separate piping systems. One pipe is connected to the urine bowl, which takes the urine to an on-site storage tank. The other pipe is connected to the solids bowl, which takes the solids either to the city sewers or to your septic tank, depending on your existing set-up.

Why is the urine diverted?

Flushing the urine separately allows for much less water to be used, but water savings aren’t the only good thing about urine-diverting toilets. This diverted urine can be stored and later used as fertilizer for flowers, vegetables and lawns.

Urine contains many of the same elements that traditional fertilizer does, like nitrogen and phosphorus, and studies in Finland have shown that it works just as well as traditional fertilizer.

One person’s daily urine production is enough to fertilize one square meter (10.7 square feet) of soil, so a family can fertilize their garden in this way.

Are you allowed to use urine as fertilizer?

While urine may seem gross, it doesn’t pose any health risks, according to Scientific American. It’s feces that contains dangerous bacteria, like E. coli, and when urine is kept separate from feces, it remains safe.

Since laws vary so much across the country, make sure to check your state and municipal laws to make sure that this safe practise is allowed in your area. If you aren’t allowed to fertilize with urine in your area, ask your plumber to connect both the urine and solids pipes to the sewer system. While you won’t get the benefits of fertilization with this method, you’ll still be able to save lots of water.

If you need to cut back on your household’s water usage but don’t want to alter your habits too much, ask your plumber about alternative toilet designs like urine-diversion toilets. Learn more by contacting companies like Shakley Mechanical Inc. 

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Make Sure Your New High-Efficiency Furnace Condensate Pipe Won’t Freeze Up

Posted by on Dec 11, 2015 in Uncategorized |

All types of furnaces have drain pipes, or condensate pipes. These pipes direct condensation that collects during the heating process out of the heater, and usually outdoors. In the Northern United States, it’s important to make sure the condensate pipe won’t freeze up during winter when you’re installing a new furnace — especially if you’re installing a high-efficiency furnace, as these models produce more condensation than regular furnaces.

High-Efficiency Furnaces Produce Lots of Condensation

High-efficiency furnaces produce lots of condensation, because condensation is created during the heating process and high-efficiency furnaces are extremely good at heating. In furnaces, heat is transferred from an exhaust product to the air (which is then directed to rooms). As the exhaust product cools, it produces condensation. High-efficiency furnaces extract as much heat from their exhaust products as possible, so the exhaust products in high-efficiency furnaces produce lots of condensation. says a high-efficiency furnace can produce as much as 5 or 6 gallons of water from condensation each day.

Condensate Pipes May Freeze Up in the Winter

Most of the time, condensate pipes are set up to carry condensation outdoors through a hole in an exterior wall. The water is able to drain harmlessly into the ground.

This system is fine for most of the year, but condensate pipes can freeze up in the winter. Ice builds up when the water in a pipe freezes faster than it drains. Once ice starts forming, it will continue to form until temperatures go above freezing and the pipe can thaw. Eventually, the pipe may freeze shut if the weather remains cold, as it does for long periods of time in much of the Northern U.S.

The issue is compounded in extremely cold weather. Water will freeze quickly when temperatures are well below freezing, but this is also when you’ll most need your furnace. Running your furnace will generate more condensation, which will create more water that can freeze.

If your condensate pipe freezes and temperatures don’t warm up, you’ll need to thaw the pipe out yourself. This is an easy do-it-yourself project, but it is a hassle nonetheless. A condensate pipe can be thawed by:

  • wrapping warm towels around the pipe
  • pouring hot water over the pipe
  • securing heat tape to the pipe

Condensate Pipes Can Be Installed to Reduce Freezing

When installing a new furnace, a new condensate pipe can be installed so that the risk of freezing up is reduced. There are a few ways your furnace installation technician might set up the pipe so it’s less likely to freeze. To accommodate the increased amount of condensation that a new high-efficiency furnace will produce, your technician can do the following:

  • install a vertical pipe, instead of a horizontal one, so water drains faster
  • install an oversized pipe so ice is less likely to block the entire pipe
  • insulate the pipe so ice won’t build up

Prevent Your New High-Efficiency Furnace’s Pipe from Freezing

Many times, new furnaces are installed using existing condensation pipes because pipes rarely wear out. If you’re having a high-efficiency furnace installed, though, your current furnace’s drain pipe might freeze up during the winter once you connect a model that produces more condensation. You may need a new pipe.

So you don’t have to go out in the cold and thaw your furnace’s drain pipe, talk with a heating installation technician, such as those at Glendale Heating & Air Conditioning, about ways they can set up the pipe so that the risk of ice building up is reduced. Installing a vertical pipe, and oversized pipe or insulation around a pipe is easy when installing a high-efficiency furnace, and taking such a preventative step will keep you inside where it’s warm during the winter.

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