Tips for cutting back by the ream
Paper. We know it. We use it in our daily lives, often without even realizing how much.
Well, here’s an idea of how much: each year, the amount of paper the world consumes increases. We consume four times as much paper as we did 50 years ago. And friends, that’s a heck of a lot of paper. Which means a heck of a lot of trees.
But trees are expendable, right? The world can always grow more, right?
Not only are trees a finite resource – it takes a long time to grow a tree and not that much time to chop it down – but cutting them down destroys ecosystems, has negative effects on water and air quality, and shrinks our forests. Where will you go when you need a weekend in a cabin with your dog, to write fine literature and gaze at the stars?
We often think that using paper is better than a plastic counterpart, because paper is easier to recycle, and comes from trees. However, this isn’t always the case. Not only do some treatments on paper products make them non-recyclable – like a greasy pizza box – but we’re still hacking down our precious forests.
The bottom line is: if there’s a way we can be kinder to our planet, no matter how small, we should be doing it. See if any of the following are sneaking up in your daily life, and where you can cut down your use – instead of cutting down trees.
Get to work.
The office is a great place to start cutting back on your paper problem. With the winds of the digital age blowing through, we’re confident there’s some room for improvement. Even if it’s small.
- Digitize as many documents as possible – internal memos, plus documents from any third parties you work with.
- About to make 50 copies of that fact sheet to send to the floor? Try sending an email instead.
- Take notes on a tablet or laptop, instead of note pads.
- Give presentations on projectors, instead of hand-outs for the whole room.
- If you do have to print, try to make sure it’s double-sided, with wide margins. Use the paper more efficiently!
- Once you’re done with it, recycle it! For sensitive documents, recycle post-shredding, or ensure you utilize a shredding company that does.
We’re used to the concept of bills in the mail, folders full of receipts, and invoices ruling the money records. Not only is it a ton of wasted paper, but it’s a hot mess. Digitizing some or all of these will save your sanity and the rainforest.
- Request to receive all your bills paperless, via email. Pay them online or by phone.
- Credit card or bank statements can be paperless too. You can even set up digital alerts to remind you to pay your balance, or use a smart phone app to pay bills on the go.
- Instead of printing out online receipts, save them all in a folder on your computer.
Clear the clutter.
Paper piles up in ways we may not even realize. Take a look around your home and see if you can clear some space by addressing the following.
- Change your newspaper or magazine subscriptions to digital.
- Unsubscribe from the junk mail that keeps filling your mailbox.
- If you really need to print, make sure you’re purchasing recycled paper products to use – or better yet, paper from alternate materials like hemp or bamboo.
Empty the bag stash.
You may think you’ve graduated eco-college because you’ve gotten past the plastic-bag-full-of-plastic-bags stage, and moved to the massive-pile-of-paper-bags stage. News flash – you could be doing so much better.
Aside from the obvious faults of paper bags, like the flimsy handles, the hellish challenge of carrying them in the rain, and the unnecessarily sharp edges, paper bags also use a lot of, well – paper. And we’ve already gone over why we don’t want to do that.
What to tote your groceries with, then? Don’t worry, we’ve got the perfect idea – a shameless plug for our Ecoflex reusable grocery bags[insert link to product here]. They’re sturdy, easy to care for, can carry way more groceries than your average paper bag – and last way longer too. It’s an investment that pays for itself every time your grocery bag doesn’t split in the middle of the parking lot.
When you first start making changes to your lifestyle to cut down paper consumption, it may seem a little less convenient at times – it’s hard to be conscious of what you’re doing when you’ve been going through the motions for so long. But we promise it gets easier. New habits will be better for your space, your sanity, and most importantly, our sweet Planet Earth.