When the calendar reached Earth Day recently, it got the staff here at Procare Software motivated to think about being more green conscious. The first thing that occurred to us was the way offices in general, and administrative functions in particular, tend to use a lot of paper. Your child care business may use large quantities of paper too.
So we asked the head of our in-house accounting team to review our own paper usage as a company. Here’s what we found.
Decreasing Paper Use
With the exception of a slight bump in 2013, overall paper use at Procare has been on a steady downward trend over the last six years. We’ve gone from using over 320 reams of paper (160,000 sheets) a year to an estimated 120 reams (60,000 sheets) for the current year—a stunning decrease of 63%. That works out to saving a total of more than one dozen large-diameter trees (based on conservatree.org estimates of 24 trees to produce a ton of office paper).
How We Did It
Most of the information that used to be printed, photocopied and stored in traditional file cabinets is now housed electronically in databases, email correspondence, and .PDF files. As you’ll see, the need for printed material drops dramatically when you have access to the information you need on your computer.
7 Ways to Use Less Paper in Your Child Care
#1 – Keep essential family information in a Child Care Database to eliminate mountains of records you used to hand-write or print.
#2 – Consider an Online Wait List that lets parents enter basic preregistration information through a link on your website. You’ll receive an email alert when new information has been entered. Then, just import it to your database without any paper forms.
#3 – Rather than printing flyers and newsletters to place in each child’s cubby, communicate with families by email and text messaging—features that come built into Procare. You can even attach your flyer as a .PDF. See: Email Families and Text Message Families.
#4 – Email Statements to your families to further cut down on paper use.
#5 – Use Electronic Check-In to track child and staff hours, which does away with printed sign-in and roll call sheets.
#6 – A big paper-saving feature is the ability to store records in .PDF format for any family, child, employee, or vendor. The .PDF becomes part of your database, so paper forms are no longer needed. See: Attach .PDF to Child/Family.
#7 – Instead of printing financial reports or employee time cards, etc., export them to a .PDF. The information may then be emailed, stored on your computer, or copied to a removable device like a USB flash drive. See: Export Reports.