Go Green, Save Green with Internet Faxing

Corporate social responsibility involves employers and employees taking measures to reduce both the consumption of natural resources and the generation of waste, yet each day they walk blithely by one of the biggest resource wasters in the office. No, it’s not Harry in Accounting, who tosses his Coke cans in the regular wastebasket and never quite seems to turn the water all the way off in the kitchen sink. It’s the fax machine.

According to Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, fax machines are one of the most energy-intensive pieces of equipment in an office. They are constantly drawing power around the clock because they need to be available at any hour.

Then there’s the amount of paper fax machines consume. Every page of every fax is printed out, whether it contains useful information or not. Each fax usually includes a cover page, adding to the total. If the fax transmission is interrupted or the fax becomes garbled on the receiving end, it takes even more paper to correct these problems.

Still, how big of an issue can this paper consumption be? Businesses that require handwritten notes or authorized signatures often send and receive thousands of pages of documents each year, representing acres upon acres of forest to make the paper for those faxes. And then what happens? Often the businesses scan those pages to create electronic documents that are easier to save and share, discarding the original paper. Or they have to purchase filing cabinets, banker’s boxes and space to store all their paper files until they don’t need them anymore -“ or the government says they can be discarded.

There is a simple solution to all of this waste, however: Internet fax services. These services allow users to send and receive faxes with an Internet connection and a PC, through their regular e-mail accounts or a secure online server.

Using an Internet fax service allows users to:
-¢ Recycle their current fax machine, or avoid purchasing one at all, helping to cut back on energy usage; it also eliminates future problems with disposal of office equipment.
-¢ Severely reduce paper consumption; users only print the pages they choose rather than every page of every fax.
-¢ Eliminate the cost of garbled pages or misfeeds that use paper without providing the information that’s needed.
-¢ Eliminate the need for a second phone line, saving those energy and material costs as well.

If 1 percent of all paper faxes sent in America each year were sent electronically, 73.5 million trees would be saved. There are other environmental issues that make Internet faxing a socially responsible technology to adopt as well. Dangerous bleaching chemicals such as chlorine, sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide are used as whitening agents to make fax paper. Fax machines also require ink cartridges, which ultimately take up precious landfill space unless they are recycled.

But environmental responsibility isn’t the only reason to use an Internet fax service. Since it only requires an Internet connection, it allows users to send and receive faxes when they’re out of the office -“ which is far more convenient for mobile workers. Then there’s the security aspect. With a fax machine, confidential information is left out in the open, where anyone can view it. Since Internet fax services deliver faxes directly into an online or e-mail account, only the people who are supposed to see it will see it. This also means that every fax is just a couple of mouse clicks away. That’s certainly a lot more convenient than trying to carry paper files around, or find older files in a storage room.

The best news is that unlike many corporate responsibility programs that wind up costing more than conducting business as usual, an Internet fax service actually helps organizations save money. It can reduce startup costs 93 percent by eliminating the cost of the fax machine and installation of a second phone line. It can then reduce monthly costs by 89 percent by eliminating the cost of toner for the fax machine and fees for the second phone line, and selectively printing only the required pages.

Do both your business and the planet a favor. Go green and save green by switching out your old fax machine for an Internet fax service. It will help you make every day Earth Day.

Steve Adams is the vice president of marketing for Protus, a provider of communications tools for small-to-medium-businesses and enterprise organizations, including the MyFax (www.myfax.com) internet fax service; my1voice, a virtual phone service; and Campaigner, an e-mail marketing service. He can be reached at [email protected].