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6 Creative Ways To Reduce Paper Waste

February 28, 2015

Did you know that, by weight, paper accounts for over half of all the material that is recycled in the United States? About 65 percent of all paper is currently recycled each year in the United States, which is more than any other material including metal, glass and plastic. However, the EPA reports that 27 percent of residential trash is paper, the highest percentage of any type of household waste. 

It is easy to recycle paper and even reduce the amount you use and receive in the first place as well. Not only is recycling paper practical, it can also be fun and save you time in the long run. With these tips you can help more paper find a better destination than the landfill!

Reduce The Amount Of Paper You Receive And Generate

One of the best ways to reduce paper waste is to look at how much paper mail you receive. Junk mail makes up a fair amount of paper mail, and nobody enjoys receiving it anyway. Opting out of junk mail is a great way to reduce paper waste while also keeping your house more organized. Learn how here.

Another way to reduce mail is to subscribe to digital editions for all of the papers, magazines and catalogues you receive. Some publications might not offer this as an option, but even switching one subscription to a digital format can make a huge difference!

If you have a smart phone, you can reduce paper waste even more by accessing your coupons via email or having them texted to you. If a store you go to offers this option, the cahier can scan coupon barcodes right from your screen.

Go Paper-Free With Your Finances

Bills make up another good portion of paper mail, and you can make even more of a positive impact by enrolling in paper-free billing. Most companies such as utility, cable and insurance companies will have instructions for how to go paperless right on the bills you receive in the mail. This will likely require you to set up an online account on their website to manage your payments.

When you go paperless with bills, you can often set up automatic payments so you don't have to stress about forgetting a payment. You will also save a few cents each month by not having to put a stamp on your bill to send it out.

If you'd like to go even further, see if you can receive electronic statements from your bank. You can also ask to receive direct deposit for your paycheck at work.

Make Notepads Out Of Used Printer Paper

If you have a stack of pages you printed out but no longer need, extend their usefulness by using them for scratch paper. As long as the pages don't have sensitive financial or personal information, you can use them for this project.

All you need to do is carefully cut the pages into fours and stack up the pieces with the blank sides facing up. Simply clamp them together with a binder clip and use the stack for day-to-day notes or reminders. This eliminates the need to buy post-its or other paper pads. Plus, once you’ve used the pages for notes you can still recycle them.

Reuse Things You Wouldn't Normally Think Of As Reusable

Business cards, greeting cards, calendars and newspapers all seem to have just one purpose. However, these items can be reused in multiple ways! If you don't mind unconventional gift wrap, newsprint or the comics section make fun wrapping paper. 25 million trees could be saved each year if Americans recycled just ten percent of their newspapers!

If you have pretty calendars lying around that you can't bring yourself to get rid of, you can use the pages for wrapping gifts as well. You can also get creative with gift tags by using the backs of old business cards. Check out some more creative ideas from The Green Philly Blog for reusing old business cards.

Use Paperless Alternatives For Things You Use On A Daily Basis

Paper towels, makeup removing pads, lunch bags, calendars, grocery bags, and tea bags are just a few paper-based products that can be replaced with eco-friendly options. Consider using washcloths to remove makeup and buying or making cloth napkins to replace paper towels. Replace lunch bags and grocery bags with durable cloth bags instead. You can even purchase special cloth bags for produce from certain stores.

Rather than paper calendars, consider using a whiteboard calendar or switching to the calendar in your phone or email. If you drink tea, see if your favorite kinds come in loose leaf form rather than in individually packaged bags. Using a metal tea ball as an alternative will cut down on the paper used for the tea bags, their packages and tags.

Complete The Cycle And Buy Recycled Paper

Even if you are able to reduce your paper needs to almost zero, there will be times when you need to print out documents or send letters, cards and documents in the mail. You can still make this process more eco-friendly by purchasing paper, envelopes and cards from companies that practice sustainable forestry. One certification companies can earn is the Forest Stewardship Council's Chain-of-Custody Certification. Simply look for the FSC logo, a green tree outline with FSC written below it, when looking for sustainable products. If you can't find certified products, keep an eye out for paper made with post-consumer fiber.

Take Your Recycling Efforts One Step Further With A Car Donation

Paper is so easy to recycle, but so are cars! Paper may be one of the most recycled materials, but automobiles are actually the number one recycled item in the United States. Roughly 65 percent of a car is steel, which can be recycled to make new vehicles. It is estimated that 95 percent of retired cars are recycled each year. This saves an estimated 85 million barrels of oil a year that would have been used to create new vehicle parts.

Donate A Car Online

Donating a car is an incredibly easy way to recycle it. Not only is your donation a great way to contribute to the green movement, it's also a wonderful way to help a child from your community. Wheels For Wishes is a nonprofit car donation program that benefits Make-A-Wish, helping them to grant wishes for more children facing critical illnesses. The proceeds from recycling or auctioning your vehicle help your local Make-A-Wish grant more wishes for kids in your community.

Maybe an online car donation will be your first step towards reducing paper usage! Alternatively, you may also call 1-855-278-9474 to make a car donation over the phone. No matter what, we make it quick and easy for you to donate a vehicle and help kids with critical illnesses feel more hope, strength and joy.

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