With many things going digital in recent years, it’s natural to assume that paper consumption rates are going down. The reality is Americans are the heaviest paper users throughout the entire world. The average American uses seven trees per year in paper, wood, and other products made out of trees. With all of us combined, this is equal to 2,000,000,000 trees every year, with the average household throwing away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year, most of which is packaging and junk mail.
When you think about it, these statistics make total sense. Paper is pretty much everywhere – in your kitchen, home office, bathroom, mailbox, etc. Your first thought might be “paper is renewable and fairly inexpensive, what’s the harm in that?” Many are surprised to learn that paper waste’s footprint on the environment is quite hefty:
- Among all manufacturing industries, paper production is the third most energy-intensive and is responsible for utilizing more than 12% of all energy in the industrial sector.
- The paper and pulp industry is the fourth-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the manufacturing sector.
- Because of the way plantation trees are planted and sprayed with pesticides, the trees occupy space while not providing any habitat to wildlife.
- The paper industry is responsible for the release of constant toxic pollutants (such as lead, phosphorus, mercury, and chlorine) into the environment that is harmful not just to wildlife, but to humans as well.
While recycling is beneficial and essential when you cannot avoid paper altogether, reducing the amount of paper that you consume is the best way that you can make a difference for the planet. That’s because when you use less paper, you’re simultaneously reducing its impact on forests, reducing energy use and emissions associated with its production, limiting pollution, and producing less waste overall.
Keep reading below for some easy ways to use less paper and, in turn, save some money while you’re at it.
1. Opt-Out of Junk Mail
Did you know that junk mail leads to the waste of at least 100 million trees a year? Roughly 44% of it ends up in landfills unopened, creating methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Check out this post from SmallFootPrintFamily for tips on how you can stop receiving junk mail.
2. Use Cloth Napkins
Instead of using paper ones, switch to using rags or kitchen towels instead of paper towels to meet your needs. You can upcycle old clothing to sew your one-of-a-kind napkins or just reuse them for cleaning purposes. Investing in high-quality reusable cleaning towels and napkins can go a long way in helping reduce waste, and you can still get the job done.
3. Say No to Paper Plates and Cups
No one likes washing dishes, but this is a must. Opting for your regular tableware is a simple way to reduce paper waste, along with saving money from having to constantly buy disposable tableware. This is a simple and efficient way to increase the quality of your living.
4. Sign up for Paperless Bills
This is a straightforward concept, but it also boosts convenience and ease of access. By switching to online billing, you can better organize your bills, payments, and other information you need readily available. You can pay them online or by phone instead, and most banks and other companies offer this as an option.
5. Choose Online Magazine or Newspaper Subscriptions
Most magazines and newspapers have an online version today, with many of the digital options being cheaper than a physical copy. You can also get creative with how you read, markup, and consume the content. There are various apps, programs, and other digital tools available to help you explore the world of magazines and newspapers.
6. Repurpose Old Paper
Many people often have “scratch” or old paper that they no longer have a specific use for, so it’s a good idea to find another use from them. An example is to reuse one-sided paper for personal notes (or notes to your family members/co-workers). You can even use old paper for games, sketching, scrapbooking, or anything else you see fit.
7. Communicate Electronically With Co-Workers
Just by choosing electronic mail over regular mail, you can help reduce paper usage significantly. While this is a simple idea and something extremely easy to do, it can help limit the amount of paper waste produced in the workplace, and, where appropriate, you can add your fun twist to your emails/messages you send out.
8. Think Twice Before Printing
Only print when you need to. Many times things are printed and only used a few times, and you may even find you have to print something again since it didn’t turn out correctly the first time. One simple way to avoid printing is to save online receipts to a designated folder on your computer, along with finding other ways to limit paper waste.
We hope that you’ll follow these tips on how you can cut back on your paper use. If you’re looking for other ways to help contribute to a cleaner environment, then be sure to follow us on our blog.
Spring Power & Gas prioritizes sustainability, and always opts for digital communications when possible. We’ve been able to reduce paper communications significantly by beginning to use Salesforce tablets in 2019. We also primarily utilize digital platforms to dispatch our Ecogold loyalty program, sending regular digital communication to our customers to help them be more energy-efficient and sustainable at home. Interested in learning more? Explore our page here.