How to Eliminate Paper Waste in Your House
Protect the environment by simply eliminating paper waste in your house!
When paper products (other than sheets for writing on) first came into use they were seen as a great, disposable alternative to other products such as towels or burlap which you have to clean after use. Little was understood back then about the impact these products would have on the environment, especially after the industrial revolution made it possible to pump out enough disposable paper to make it easy to jot down a sticky note, throw it away, and tear out another.
According to a study from the University of Southern Indiana, approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S. alone. The first place to cut down that number is in the home. So here are a few easy ways you can eliminate paper waste in your house!
1. Kitchen Rags
One of the biggest offenders of paper waste is paper towels used mainly in the kitchen. They’re a simple and convenient way to wipe up a mess and toss it out. So, we have to figure out a way to make it simple and convenient to wipe up a mess without tossing it out! Set up a little bin on the counter with about a dozen cloth rags folded up neatly, side-by-side. When you have to clean up a mess, pull out one of the rags, dump the bigger mess in the trash and throw the rag into the washing machine. (Cloth rags are usually better than paper at picking up La Española olive oil spills, too!)
2. Digital Notes
Are you the kind of person who has a computer monitor full of sticky notes? Do you also jot down something to remember, only to throw away the note after a couple of minutes? It can feel so helpful to have all your little sticky notes conveniently in front of you all the time, but it is such a waste of paper! Turn instead to note-taking apps on your computer or smartphone. There are several ways you set up these apps to give you reminders, stay on your screen, or share notes with other people. You might find that, in the end, they’re even better than the paper notes!
3. Bamboo Paper
If you can find paper products that are made from bamboo, use those instead! Bamboo is a fast-growing grass instead of a tree, and it regenerates from its own roots without needing fertilizer. This makes it highly sustainable! There’s no need to cut down whole forests of trees to get the paper generated from a field of bamboo.
4. Say No to Receipts
This is an easy one. You know you’re probably never going to use that receipt. Just decline it. If you really do need a receipt, try to visit a store that utilizes digital receipts. Or try ordering online where they’ll email a receipt to you. For many stores, you can even order online and pick up in-store. Which brings me to my next point…
5. Store Important Documents Digitally
There is a wealth of tools you can use online to create, scan and store digital documents. You can use Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, or many others. If you don’t trust data storage on the Cloud, you can always also buy more physical digital storage. Not only is this more environmentally friendly but also helps to keep from having a cluttered workspace at your home office.
6. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
No matter what else we do to help the environment, we always come back to recycling! If you can use the back of a used piece of paper to write a note, do that. If part of that paper towel is still dry, leave it out for the next spill. But, most importantly, utilize recycle bins, and if you need wood paper, buy the recycled kind.
Eliminating paper waste is just one step in helping to protect the environment, but it’s an important one and an easy one that you can do at home. If you have any more tips on how to eliminate paper waste, share them with us on Facebook or Instagram! We’d love to hear from you!