Make Your Real Estate Office Forest Friendly

 Editor’s Note: Today is the second of a series of guest posts. I’ve invited several people in the real estate and property management communities to contribute and Today’s is from Kevin Ablett, a Realtor from Calgary and a REIN member. This post was originally shared on the REINspace forums, and Kevin kindly offered to share it. Some great tips!

As real estate investors, we go through a LOT of paper. It came to my attention recently just how much paper as my Fiance and I were cleaning out our office and taking our recycling to the depot — Good news on that front, by the way — It appears as though Calgary will finally be moving out of the stone ages and into the 20th century (yes, I said 20th century) by implementing curb-side recycling pickup in 2009! Hooray for curb side! It only took 10 years longer than most small towns in the middle of nowhere Ontario, but that’s ok. At least we’re making progress. Now, where was I? Oh yes, that mountain of paper that keeps piling up as we go through junk mail, print off things for unproductive meetings that we really didn’t need but felt that we just couldn’t go to the meeting empty handed (what’s that all about?), and all of those real estate documents that are so crucial to our growing business, yet so cumbersome once the deals are completed.

Well, in accordance with the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) I’m going to share with you Kevin’s tips on how to save money and make your real estate business a little more forest friendly in the process.

Step 1: ReduceReal Estate investors care about the enviroment too!

We live in a print-happy society, where we have a tendency to print things off just because we might need it later. We also have a tendency to print off documents without really paying attention to whether they were formatted properly.

Has this ever happened to you: You’re building one of your killer real estate spreadsheets that you love so much, but you failed to realize that it was just a little longer and a littler wider than the margins allowed for? Then, when you print it off, you end up with 4 pages of scattered data that should have been on 1, AND you have to throw them all out and re-format it so that it prints properly the second time around? On a micro scale, this might seems like small potatoes, and it is, but as a society, this stuff really adds up.

Like Mike Holmes says, ‘Do it right the first time’. If I were to take a guess, I would say that millions of trees are literally wasted in Canada each year due to poor preparation of documents PRIOR to printing, resulting in multiple iterations being printed unnecessarily.

Remember: before you hit the ‘Print’ button ask yourself these two questions:

  1. Do I REALLY need to print this?
  2. Is this formatted properly to print the way I want it to? (Print Preview is the best way to check this prior to actually printing)

Step 2: Re-use

When you do print things off and end up with useless paper, don’t just throw it out and don’t just recycle it right away either. Most of us print things on one side. This means we’ve got a perfect supply of draft copy paper at our fingertips. I have a huge stack of old real estate contracts in a box that I keep for those instances when I simply must print something off, but I’m not necessarily concerned about how it presents. This way, I’m able to use BOTH sides of the paper before putting it in the recycling bin. There’s 50% paper savings right there, folks!

Step 3: Recycle

There’s no question about it, if you are still literally throwing old paper in the garbage, you need to get your head checked. There’s a reason they teach us the 3 R’s in Grade 2 — it’s so easy a 6-year old can do it. I don’t get mad when I see adults not doing this — I just feel sorry for them — because they are clearly so out of touch with the world they live in that they are probably foolish about many other aspects of their lives, too. Now, I know that recycling in Calgary has not always been the most convenient thing, and that is often the excuse busy adults will use for neglecting the planet. But the bottom line here is that, in the long run, we’re only hurting ourselves when we neglect to do very simple tasks like putting paper in a box, letting it accrue until the box is full, and then dropping the box in a bin at the end of the street on our way to (or from) work. It doesn’t have to be a big chore, some of us just make it out to be.

I’m also going to go one step further and discover the 4th R:


What are you going to do the next time you run out of paper? Will you run down to staples and pick up the cheapest package you can find, or will you look for the brand that offers recycled or post consumer content?

Did you know that there is a big difference between ‘recycled’ and ‘post-consumer’?
‘Recycled’ paper is often just a clever marketers way of saying, ‘we took all the trimmings from this virgin paper we produced and ran it back through the machine one more time to get some more mileage out of it’. A more efficient option for the paper mills, yes, but still using virgin feedstock, so no thanks. ‘Post consumer’, on the other hand, means paper that has actually gone into society, been used, been ‘recycled’ (here’s how the word gets confusing because in this context it’s actually a good thing and what they’re really saying is more like ‘re-manufactured’), and then re-sold to the consumer. Hence, ‘Post- Consumer’. This is the kind of paper you want to buy. No trees were harmed in the making of this paper…of course, they might have been the first time around, but not this time! That’s a huge step in the right direction.

So, the next time you go to buy paper, ask for the one with the highest post-consumer content. Staples and Office Depot are typically disappointing in this regard, as they rarely carry brands with more than 20% post consumer paper.

Warning: Blatant Non-Profit plug coming up

The Clean Calgary Association, of which I am a volunteer board member, has sourced an incredible 100% post consumer paper product and they sell it by the package and by the case. It is guaranteed to work in laser and inkjet printers of all kinds, so most corporate copiers can handle it as well. What’s really great about it is that it costs about the same as normal paper and ALL the profits from the sales of this paper go back into enabling the organization to offer more environmental education, products, and services.

You can learn more about Clean Calgary and find the address to our EcoStore at

By reducing the amount of paper you use overall, using both sides of it when you must use it, recycling it when you’re done with it, and re-stocking your shelves with 100% post consumer paper at all times, you will be well on your way to creating a ‘forest friendly office’ that you can be proud of AND saving money for your business at the same time. Now THAT’s ECO-Investing!

Until next time…

Happy eco-investing,


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  • Hola , I agree with this article, just sometimes I read so fast everything and I miss things that after read them again, I can understand it better.. ;). Your ur Real Estate Office Forest Friendly | Chris Davies Blog Stumbled up and Bookmarked, so I keep updated on every article you write from now now on oh real estate.