Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 4: Reduce Paper Waste, Save the Trees!

Our trees are a very precious resource, don't you think? How can you not appreciate the beautiful falls colors they give us this time of year!


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We're lucky that at least trees is one of the more renewable resources we have, if not the most renewable. That still doesn't mean we should waste paper needlessly.

The facts about paper and trees are really jaw-dropping. For instance, the average American uses up 7 trees worth of paper, wood and other tree-derived products. That's 2 billion trees a year used up by the total population of the U.S.A. The problem is that a lot of paper we throw away is useless paper, like junk mail and packaging, that we did not want or needed in the first place.

And here's the thing. In this day and age, most people have their own computer at their disposal, which can replace a lot of our paper needs. Heck, some households have more than 1 electronic device per person, including laptops and tablets (us included). Let's maximise the use of our electronic devices, and minimise our paper use, who's with me?!


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Reduce Printing Paper Usage

Think before you print. Whenever you are printing something, ask yourself if you can go without printing it. I barely print anything anymore because I can make do with the electronic copy only.

If you do need to print, can you print on both sides of the page? Just this would cut the amount of printing paper we use roughly by half. Also make sure you are only printing the pages you actually need. Click print preview before printing to see if you can save from printing the last page, or if you can adjust margins and reduce font size by 1 point to print less pages if it's not an official document.


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Next step would be to reuse paper that was only printed on one side. Place a scrap paper box near your printer at home, or wherever would be most optimal, and use those scraps to write down notes and such, or for your kids to color on. You don't need to stop at paper, let your kids color on cardboard, too!

Then when the piece of paper is at the end of it's life, recycle it. Remember how we discussed yesterday how to make recycling easier and second nature? Each ton of recycled paper saves 64% of energy, 58% of water usage, and 60 pounds of air pollution, compared to making from new trees. Making that extra effort to put paper in the recycling bing saves more than just trees.


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Enroll for ePost (aka to receive an electronic copy of your bills and statements)

I don't see there being any benefit to receiving your bills and statements in the mail. You not only waste the paper copy, but also the envelope, and whatever other pamphlet they send along with it. And it's safer to do online billing, since most identity theft arise from the stolen paper copy anyway.

If you haven't already signed up for epost, put it on your to-do list right now, or just do it! It really doesn't take that long.

I signed up for ePost, a service offered by Canada Post, through which you can select the companies that send you bills and statements so that they send you the electronic version and not the paper/mail version. My ePost is connected to my RBC Online Banking account, so paying my bills is also easy peasy!


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It's been a couple of years that I did that, so I don't entirely remember how to set it up, unfortunately. I think you might also be able to set it up through each company individually. I really don't have many bills, so it's really easy to manage (I got cell phone and hydro that's it; everything else is VISA, through my bank, or my bank directly, which I also signed up for electronic copy only). The only bill I do get in the mail is tuition bills (for uni), because I don't think they have the option.

I'm not sure through which company or website you set it up in the U.S. I'm having a hard time googling it, too, so if anyone can leave me a comment, that would be appreciated!! I think you need to deal with the individual companies, though...


Cancel Junk Mail

We get between 450 and 650 unsolicitated admail a year per person. This is killing trees for stuff we don't even want! But we can stop it!!


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Did you know you can opt out of receiving junk mail? Yeah! There's this site: Catalog Choice (for U.S. residents only). They have a mobile app for it, which seems super nifty! You just need to take a picture of the company who sent the junk mail with your phone and they take care of the rest. There are other options if you can't do it though the mobile app, you can send your junk mail to the company to be removed, but that'll cost you a bit (7$). And there's also the free Firefox extension that'll remove your name from lists. It's worth it to check it out.

There's also DMA Choice you could look into. You tell them what you want and don't want in your mailbox, as far as I can tell.

You can also call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) so that you don't receive most pre-approved credit card offers.

For Canadians, you'll want to check out the Red Dot Campaign. They have links to where to go do be added to the Do Not Contact Service (for addressed mail).

As for the rest of the junk mail (unaddressed), you can put a note in your mailbox asking not to receive these anymore. If it doesn't work, there's a letter you can send straight to Canada Post (here) The postal services are required by law to deliver any mail with the address on it, though.


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Lastly, how many of you actually use the Yellow Pages nowadays? That's what I thought. Remove your name from that list also: Canadians, U.S. citizens.

You are welcome :)

Unsuscribe to magazines

If you receive a bunch of magazines you don't read, unsubscribe from them!! It'll help the environment, and your wallet! If you got an iPad or tablet, subscribe electronically only if your favorite magazines are available.




Invest in an eReader or tablet

This is a toughy for a lot of people, we still love our paper books!! I am no exception, but it's something to consider.

I think this will be really great for schools, eventually! No need for kids to lug around all those books. Can't wait for this to be common. But it seems the problem right now is that it doesn't cater to the disabled...

Compost it

Did you know you can compost paper? Yup, it's organic afterall. Actually, it's best to add paper, like newspaper, to your compost pile, gives it some much needed carbon :) I'll talk more about composting next week.

Burn it

As a last resort, you can burn what you can't recycle, better than going to the landfill!!

Got any more tips on how you can reduce paper usage? I'd love to hear it! So share in the comments :)






I party at these parties.

3 comments:

  1. What great tips. I love the suggestion to cancel your junk mail. I didn't know that was an option.

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  2. This one makes me feel so guilty. I feel like I use about 10x more paper than the average person (although most of it is work for my students). Still, this post shows me there are some things I can do to cut back.

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