24 Tips for Saving Paper in Your Home or Office

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:11
Plus, learn how to reuse paper in creative and sustainable ways Trees are an essential part of the planet's ecosystem; they provide oxygen, clean the air, provide shade and food, and are used as homes by many creatures. To keep creating...
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Trees are an essential part of the planet’s ecosystem; they provide oxygen, clean the air, provide shade and food, and are used as homes by many creatures. To keep creating paper and other wood products, we have to cut down millions of trees each year. Even with replanting, logging can be very destructive to the environment. To help reduce damage to our forests and Earth, use these strategies to save paper in the office, at school, and at home.

Things You Should Know

  • Use reusable items like dishcloths, coffee mugs, and canvas grocery bags instead of paper products.
  • Use digital tools whenever possible to send files or important messages. If you must print something, print it double-sided using the smallest possible font.
  • Reuse paper as scrap paper, in craft projects, or as gift wrap. If a piece of paper can’t be reused, recycle it.
Method 1
Method 1 of 4:

Using Paper Substitutes

  1. Step 1 Use reusable cloths instead of paper products.
    Around the house, a lot of paper is wasted every year on things like paper towels and napkins. And if you're using lots of paper products for cleaning, drying, and wiping your nose, you can save plenty of trees by switching to reusable versions.[1]
    • Replace paper towels in the kitchen and bathroom with tea towels, dish rags, sponges, or reusable paper towels.
    • Replace facial tissues with a few handkerchiefs that can be washed and reused.
    • Use cloth napkins that can be washed and reused.
  2. Step 2 Use real dinnerware instead of paper.
    Paper plates and dishes may be convenient, but they harm the environment. Most paper plates end up in the trash, meaning the paper isn't even recycled properly.[2]
    • When you have a party or any time the paper plates come out, ask to use ceramic or glass dinnerware instead.
    • If your family likes to go on picnics or camping trips, invest in reusable plastic dinnerware.
    • You can get plates, bowls, cups, and utensils that are durable, unbreakable, reusable, and not made from paper.
  3. Step 3 Use paper from other plant sources.
    There are times when it’s simply not possible to avoid paper-like products. Luckily, there are tree-free paper products available that are made from alternative plant sources, and many of these have a smaller environmental impact.[3]
    • Hemp is a versatile plant that grows much faster than a tree and produces more fiber. Hemp can be turned into fabric, writing paper, greeting cards, envelopes, and other paper products.
    • Bamboo is another fast-growing species of plant that can be used for alternative paper products. You can find bamboo bathroom tissue, paper, towels, and even disposable dinnerware.
  4. Step 4 Bring your own thermos or reusable mug to cafes.
    Ask the barista to fill your reusable coffee mug with your drink. Like paper plates, many paper cups end up in the trash because they are not recyclable due to being coated in plastic or soiled with food waste.[4]
    • Some cafes will even give you a discount for using a reusable mug!
    • Be respectful and hygienic by washing your reusable mug before handing it to the barista.
  5. Step 5 Dine in instead of using takeout containers at restaurants.
    Another large contributor to paper waste is takeout food containers, which are often made of paper products or packed in paper bags. Next time you and your family decide to eat out, sit in the restaurant instead of taking the food in to-go containers.
    • Most fast food restaurants use paper products to wrap all food individually, so ask your family if you can eat at a conventional sit-down restaurant for your next night out.
  6. Step 6 Use reusable grocery and lunch bags.
    Many grocery stores provide paper bags to pack groceries, but you can save paper by investing in reusable grocery bags. Similarly, switch to a lunch box if you normally pack your lunch or your kids’ lunch in a paper bag.
    • If you’re hesitant about the switch, consider how much money you spend on paper bags every year. Then, compare that to the one-time cost of reusable bags.
  7. Step 7 Use computers instead of notebooks for school and work.
    Take notes and keep track of deadlines in a note-taking app or online planner like Notion. You’ll not only save paper by keeping electronic notes, but you’ll also never run the risk of losing your notes like you might with a notebook.[5]
    • If you're in school, ask your teacher if it’s okay for you to take notes on a computer or laptop instead of in a notebook.
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Method 2
Method 2 of 4:

Reducing Paper Usage

  1. Step 1 Be selective about what you print.
    Think before you print, and consider whether you really need a hard copy of that document. If you don’t need all the info on a certain page, cut and paste all the relevant information into one document and print that.[6]
    • If you must print something, choose print options that save paper: reduce the font size, increase the margins, and print double-sided.[7]
    • Use an economical font, like Garamond, instead of Times New Roman.
    • If teachers and employers require that you hand in paper copies of projects and assignments, ask if you can instead submit them electronically.
    • Proofread your document on the computer so you don’t have to print off a second draft. If it hurts your eyes, enlarge the text for proofing.
  2. Step 2 Send, receive, and store electronic records instead of paper copies.
    Most documents can be shared and stored electronically, meaning you don’t have to print off paper copies for your records. For instance, if you need a copy of an electronic document, request that it be sent to you by email in a PDF format.[8]
    • Archiving documents using virtual storage or cloud solutions will reduce filing cabinet clutter and make records and manuals easier to find for everyone who needs them.
    • Use digital signatures to sign documents you normally need to print out and sign.
    • For sensitive documents that shouldn’t be emailed, ask if you can save a copy directly to a flash drive.
    • If an original paper copy already exists and you need a record for your files, scan a version to your computer instead of making a photocopy.
  3. Step 3 Create digital materials for mailing distribution lists.
    If you work at a company that sends out mailed material, like newsletters, flyers, coupons, or magazines, make sure that paper isn’t going to waste. If possible, give subscribers the option to view these materials online.[9]
    • Otherwise, remove outdated addresses or inactive participants from your mailing list.
    • If you send out forms or surveys to your clients, opt for online forms instead. Online forms are quick and easy to make, and all you have to do is send out the link in an email.
    • Use Google Forms or a similar, free form-making service. You’ve saved paper and time!
  4. Step 4 Opt for paperless mail as a subscriber or employee.
    Many companies and organizations offer electronic correspondences that can replace paper copies they traditionally send in the mail.[10] Whenever possible, sign up for paperless communications.
    • For your paystubs, ask your boss or HR representative to switch you to direct deposit instead of receiving a check in the mail.
    • Reach out to companies you receive mail from and ask if they offer digital versions of items like bills, newsletters, monthly mailings, flyers, coupons, newspapers, and magazines.
  5. Step 5 Use paperless communications in the office.
    Opt for paper-free options if you’re constantly sending faxes or leaving sticky notes on your colleague’s desk. Send out invitations, memos, or project instructions via email, Slack, or text.[11]
    • Instead of using endless sticky notes that get immediately tossed, ask your company to place mini whiteboards at everyone’s desk so notes can be left for them while they’re away.
  6. Step 6 Use electronic calendars and day planners.
    Use a free calendar or planner online to plan your days, keep track of dates and assignments, and schedule meetings and interviews. An electronic calendar saves paper that would have been used on a calendar, organizer, journal, or other scheduler.
    • Both Google and Apple provide free calendar products.
    • There are also plenty of calendar apps that you can use on smartphones or tablets.
  7. Step 7 Send e-cards.
    There are lots of e-card services out there that allow you to personalize designs, messages, and graphics to suit your taste and the type of celebration. Instead of sending paper greeting cards to all your friends and family in the mail, send electronic greeting cards for future celebrations.
    • E-cards are also great for sending out invitations to parties, weddings, and other events.
    • Many people like to send greeting cards for birthdays, holidays, and other events, leading to plenty of paper waste. Not only is the card itself paper, but it’s also sent in a paper envelope.
  8. Step 8 Read e-books or library books.
    Books are great resources for school and work projects and are great to read as a leisure activity. But printed books are still made with paper, so you can save paper by using public versions of books available at the library or by reading electronic copies instead.
    • Buying used books is also a good idea because you're reusing something that’s already been printed.
  9. Step 9 Avoid products that have excessive packaging.
    One of the biggest culprits for creating paper waste is consumer packaging used to wrap and label food, toys, clothes, and other goods. To help save paper, buy products that have been made with minimal or no packaging.
    • Many of today’s consumer items are wrapped multiple times. Think about candy that comes in an individual wrapper within a bag that’s also placed inside a box.
    • Look for packaging that has a sticker instead of a full box or only comes in one wrapper.
    • Buying in bulk is a good way to reduce paper waste from packaging. Next time you or your family go shopping, take reusable bags and buy what you can in bulk.
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Method 3
Method 3 of 4:

Recycling and Reusing Paper

  1. Step 1 Buy recycled paper products.
    Recycled paper means that no new trees were used to make that paper. Look for items tagged as being made with “post-consumer waste,” like:[12]
    • Bathroom tissues
    • Printer paper
    • Greeting cards
    • Paper bags
  2. Step 2 Use both sides of a piece of paper.
    When you have to print or write things down on paper, make sure you get the most out of that paper by writing on both sides. Keep old papers around so you can use the blank back sides whenever you need scratch paper[13]
    • If you only end up using one side of a piece of paper, you could consider using the back for mathematical calculations or sketches.
    • When writing in notebooks, always fill the pages without skipping lines (unless instructed to do so), and don’t start a fresh book until you’ve filled all the pages.
  3. Step 3 Reuse gift bags, wrapping paper, newspaper, and tissue.
    Everybody loves a well-wrapped gift, but that doesn’t mean you have to use brand-new wrapping paper for every gift you give. Instead, when you get a gift, keep the bag or wrapping paper so you can use it again for another gift.[14]
    • Newspaper can also be repurposed as an eco-friendly wrapping paper or tissue paper to stuff a gift bag.
    • You can also shred old documents and use the shredded paper as stuffing for packages or gifts.
  4. Step 4 Turn old paper products into crafts.
    Plenty of crafts require paper, so instead of using fresh sheets, reuse old paper that was already bound for recycling. You can use old newspapers, notes, cards, and other paper to try some of the craft ideas below.[15]
    • Make origami
    • Make wreaths
    • Make paper flowers
    • Make papier mâché
    • Make paper dolls
  5. Step 5 Recycle paper you can't reuse.
    When you have paper you can't reuse or repurpose, make sure you recycle it instead of throwing it in the trash. Paper that goes in the garbage ends up in a landfill. But paper that goes into the recycling bin can be sent to a special facility and turned into something new.[16]
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Method 4
Method 4 of 4:

Encouraging Others to Save Paper

  1. Step 1 Educate others on how to save paper.
    Talk to friends, family, and coworkers about how they could save more people. Put up signs that inform people about how they can help.[17]
    • Print off free signs from the internet that will help raise awareness about the importance of saving trees.
    • Print or draw your signs on reused paper and laminate them so they’re durable and don’t have to be reprinted.
    • Trash containers and recycling bins are great places for signs.
  2. Step 2 Place recycling bins around your school or office.
    Put recycling bins in prominent areas where people can’t miss them.[18] If you work in an office, ask your boss for permission to add or move recycling bins.
    • If you’re a student, talk to a teacher or faculty member—they’ll probably enthusiastically talk to the administration on your behalf and help get funding for your recycling project.
    • Most people want to recycle—they just don’t know how or don’t want to be inconvenienced.
    • Placing recycling bins in visible areas and adding pictures of what can and can’t be recycled is a great way to help others save paper.
  3. Step 3 Turn saving paper into a contest.
    If you work in a company or study in a classroom with a lot of competitive spirit, turn your cause into a game. Set up a system to measure how much paper each employee, department, or class uses over a certain period of time.[19]
    • After that time has passed, award a prize like a free lunch to the person or department that used the least paper.
    • Depending on where you’re hosting your contest, ask a teacher or manager to support your idea.
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Expert Advice

  • Boost your impact by reducing paper usage. Recycling is great, but the paper you recycle still has to be processed, which causes emissions. Reducing your paper consumption is much more effective for going green. Try to cut down on paper usage as much as you can to have an even larger, more positive environmental impact!
  • Choose reusable products over disposable paper ones. Disposing of waste, even if it is recycled, can have high energy costs. For example, instead of asking for paper bags instead of plastic bags at the grocery store, bring your own reusable cloth bags.
  • Use paper products as efficiently as possible. If you must use paper, make sure as little of it is going to waste as you can. This might mean printing double-sided or using crumpled-up sheets of used paper as a packing material. Plus, you should make sure that all of your paper products are made of 100% recycled materials.
From Kathryn Kellogg
Sustainability Specialist

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