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Envelope reuse label.gif

We're trying to reduce, reuse or figure a way to recycle all types of envelopes used at United Way. In particular, we'll be looking at (1) letter and business-sized white envelopes, (2) manila envelopes and (3) inter-office envelopes.


Goal: Reduce the number of new envelopes the office is using.

  • take a week and review all outgoing and ingoing mail and make note of stats
  • teach people how to manage their info digitally
  • obtain envelopes on an as-needed basis from a central source that you have to walk to - it will make you think if you really need one, or if you can do without (1) (2)
  • if you are going to buy envelopes, buy them with recycled content 20% or above (1) (2) (3) (see resource list below)
  • send information digitally -- if you receive something via traditional mail, see if you can take a minute to figure out if this could have been sent another way, and ask the sender to change his method next time (1) (2) (3)
    • I think low-hanging fruit is the inter-office envelope - spend one session brain-storming other ways of sending this information, and I think you could reduce the amount of these envelopes by at least 90% (3)
      • one idea: force yourself to get up and walk papers to someone else in the building if you must do it non-digitally - you'll get more exercise and it will cause you to send more digitally
  • when ordering, order a bit less than you normally do and see if you can make it work - we often use things without thinking just because they are there (1) (2) (3)


Goal: Reuse envelopes that are coming in to the office.

  • save envelopes that come to you and reuse them for acceptable destinations (1) (2)
    • cover window with adhesive labels or mailing labels and reuse
  • write on the other side of inter-office envelopes, not just one side (3)
  • see U of M's Campus Envelope Reuse and Recycling Program for ideas of how to educate people at UWSEM (3)
    • facts about how many envelopes are ordered each month
    • facts about the cost per envelope
    • facts about $ saved if each envelope was reused
    • where people can find reused envelopes
  • add 'Please Reuse' sticker to all envelopes, like 'Please Recycle' sticker
  • Reusing Envelopes bossypants at eHow tells a number of ways to reuse envelopes, such as bookmarks, notepads, etc.


Goal: Recycle envelopes that have reached the limits of use. No envelopes should be thrown away in the office.

  • try to recycle only after an envelope is 'used up' - in other words, it has had more than one use (1) (2) (3)
  • don't worry about the plastic window - it will be taken care of at the recycling center (1) (2) (3)
  • keep paper recycling close by your desk so you are not tempted to throw any paper away (1) (2) (3)