I have worked at several different office jobs over my life. Most recently, part-time as a paralegal at a law firm.
Law firms produce A LOT of paper. It's difficult to describe if you haven't worked at a firm before, but there are documents produced and many letters written. All that has to be copied, depending on the document, for the court, the client(s), the law firms file, the opposing party, etc. Like I said, A LOT of paper. Not to mention memos, emails that are printed for the file, faxes, research.
Some more progressive firms have gone paperless (none around where I live that I know of) and store all these documents on computers, thus saving the paper. Many courts have electronic filing eliminating the need for endless copies.
Where I work still has massive amounts of paper, it is nowhere near perfect, but they are making efforts to be more earth conscious.
For example, they use recycled paper. There are actual recycling bins. They reuse boxes that the massive amounts of supplies come in. We recycle printer cartridges. We are encouraged to make scrap paper out of our waste paper.
Some of these things are so obvious and are things that I have done personally for a long time, but they aren't things that are always done at offices I've worked at before.
If your employer doesn't encourage recycling, it is really easy to fall into bad habits at work. But you can personally still be green, even if your office isn't. Don't print things you don't need to. If your office doesn't have recycling bins, take your recyclables home with you, reuse your wastepaper.
From the Sierra Club, here are 10 Ways to Go Green at Work:
1. Turn off lights when you're leaving any room for more than 15 minutes. Try to use natural light when you can.
(If you have any say about light bulbs used at work, buy energy saving light bulbs and use timers or motion sensors that turn off lights when not needed.)
2. Turn off your computer and the power strip it's plugged into when you leave for the day.
3. Print smarter - print on both sides of paper or use the back side for scrap paper or drafts.
4. Go paperless whenever you can. Think before you print.
5. Place recycling bins in high-traffic areas and make sure it's clear what can be recycled. (Or talk to your boss about getting recycling bins!)
6. If you don't have much say in the office supplies where you work, you could make suggestions about purchasing furniture and supplies made from recycled materials. If you are in charge of that sort of thing, than make a point to buy such supplies and furniture.
7. You can bring in your own mug and dishes to use at the office.
8. Take public transit instead of driving for business.
9. While you're at it, take public transit or carpool to work.10. Use nontoxic cleaning products. Even if you don't have any say about that at work, you can brighten up your workspace with plants, which absorb indoor pollution.