Ten Tips for Reducing Paper Waste

I’m on a mission to live my greenest life possible. So far in my journey, I’ve done some fun projects and changed several lifestyle habits to reduce my waste such as opting for reusable items instead of disposable ones and avoiding plastics in general. Now, I’m focusing on paper. How much paper gets recycled in the United States and how can we live our greenest life possible by reducing paper waste? I was surprised to find out that nearly 70% of paper gets recycled in the United States. I was impressed by this number. However, not all paper products are the same and some aren’t recyclable. For instance, paper towels, napkins, or other paper products that may have traces of food left on them should not be put in the recycling bin. Fortunately, a lot of these can go in the compost bin. But a great place to start is to reduce our paper usage. Here are 10 tips for cutting back on paper waste:

1. Do a Paper Audit

Have you done a paper audit before? You can assess where and how much paper you use on a regular basis. Do you go through a ton of paper towels when you could be using a regular towel? Are you printing documents that could have been sent as an email? Are you making use of both sides of the paper in your notebooks? See where you can cut back on your paper usage.

2. Buy Green

Choosing greener options like hemp paper or sustainably made paper products can help reduce deforestation. Hemp paper is not taken from trees and doesn’t have the same negative impact on the environment as traditional paper. You can also buy from companies that are dedicated to greener practices.

3. Use Online Materials

Instead of buying a newspaper or magazine, choose to get your materials online. With the advent of the internet, our lives have become much simpler, and the same is true for using paper products. Anything that could’ve been printed is not available digitally. Make use of the new technology and go electronic.

4. Unsubscribe from Junk Mail

Getting too much junk mail? It’s not only a nuisance, it’s wasteful. You can opt out of all the junk mail by visiting a website that offers step by step instructions for canceling subscriptions and spam. In fact, you can get most of your mail electronically including bills and bank statements.

5. Opt for Organics

Some types of paper cannot be reused or composted. For instance, paper with a plastic or wax coating cannot be broken down. Choose wax paper that has organic wax which can be composted or go for reusable options. Opting for organics means less waste.

6. Recycle

Some people argue that recycling paper is a wasted effort because of the energy that goes into making it usable again. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency “producing recycled paper requires 40 percent less energy than making paper from virgin wood, or about 10.6 fewer gigajoules per ton of finished product.” Just make sure you’re only putting recyclable paper in the recycling bin.

7. Reduce

Cut out the paper altogether where possible. Have your bills and banking done electronically so as not to waste paper. You can also have receipts sent electronically which is a great option because receipts are not recyclable and are often printed on thermal paper which is harmful to the environment.

8. Reuse

A lot of paper can be reused. Use both the front and back of writing paper. Consider keeping scrap paper for notetaking or other writing projects. If you simply cannot part with wrapping paper, try taping it carefully so that it can be reused again.

9. Repurpose

There are other things you can do with unrecyclable paper. For instance, napkins and paper towels can go in a compost bin where they’ll break down. Magazines can be used for all sorts of fun projects. And shredded paper is a great alternative for packing to bubble wrap or Styrofoam.

10. Spread the Word

Encourage your community, your friends, your family, and your coworkers to engage in eco-friendly practices. If your employer does not recycle, suggest getting recycling bins. Buy green paper products as gifts for friends and family. Join local groups in your area committed to greener living. Be a positive influence for a more eco-friendly future!



Published by That Hippie Looking Chick

I'm a traveler, adventurer, upcycler, and bus dweller.

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