Take a second to run through your typical shopping list in your mind… How many paper products are on that list? Paper towels? Toilet paper? Napkins? Lunch Bags? Now think about all the other people in the world who are also using these products daily… That is a LOT of paper waste! Cutting back on the paper waste in your own home really isn’t as difficult as you might think. You can simply start to recycle or you can go as far as using family cloth and mama cloth instead of toilet paper and disposable feminine products. There are several things that you can do in your home to reduce paper waste that is generated by your family.
Why Should You Reduce Paper Waste In Your Home?
I am not anti-paper, but there is no denying that paper production uses an insane amount of natural resources each year. Making some simple changes to reduce paper waste generated in your home can help preserve some of these resource and save a little bit of your money. The World Counts has a detailed post put together about the effects of paper waste on the environment.
17 Steps to Reduce Paper Waste
1. Stop buying paper towels.
My goal with going paperless didn’t originally have an eco-minded purpose. I wanted to save money and cut back on the amount of items that I was purchasing from the grocery store. The first step that I took to reach this goal was to stop buying paper towels. I started using flour sack towels (large towels can be cut into quarters) and Unpaper towels like these that I received from The 1914 Farmstead.
2. Swap to Cloth Napkins.
After seeing the positive effects on my finances and the environment from this simple change, I decided that I should keep making changes. The next step was to start using cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.
3. Use a coffee maker that does not require a paper filter.
Coffee is considered an essential in my house. If I was still using paper filters I would be throwing away so much money and filling up the local landfill because this mama drinks a ton of coffee! About a year ago my darling husband purchased a Ninja Coffee Bar as a gift for me (major brownie points!)… This coffee maker uses a reusable filter so there is ZERO paper waste!
4. Bring your own to-go cup
When you go out to eat, try to take your own thermos or water bottle instead of asking for a paper or styrofoam to-go cup.
5. Make or buy reusable snack/sandwich bags.
This step reduces paper and plastic waste depending on the type of bags that you typically purchase. Reusable snack & sandwich bags can be purchased on Amazon or Etsy OR you can make your own out of a Waterproof PUL Fabric. I made the bags in this photo over two years ago with PUL and snaps. I use the large one as a garbage bag for my car so obviously the uses aren’t limited here. 🙂
6. Opt for reusable gift wrap.
Using old newspapers or Fabric Wrap instead of the typical wrapping paper is a great way to reduce your family’s paper waste! You can also use practical items such as baskets, flower pots, and reusable canvas bags as gift wrap.
7. Use dry erase board or laminated paper instead of a notebook for to-do lists.
It just recently hit me how much paper I wasting with my daily to-do lists. I LOVE using pen & paper, but the waste is a little on the ridiculous side so I am switching to one sheet of laminated paper. This sheet will stay on my desk and I will use a dry erase marker for my daily lists. You could also use a dry erase board mounted on the wall if that works better for you.
8. Use a digital list keeping system.
Trello is an amazing digital system for keeping up with multiple checklists and tasks. It can be accessed from your computer, phone, and tablet so you can view & edit anywhere which makes this a viable replacement for paper lists. Allie Cassazza has a great post about using Trello if you are new to the system.
9. Avoid using paper plates & cups.
I have been guilty of using paper plates as a busy mama. Having less dishes and easy clean up sounded like a win-win for me until I realized how much paper waste actually affects the environment. Now, each family member has 1-2 plates & bowls and we rinse them as we go through the day so they don’t pile up. My FAVORITE plates for the kids are these stackable & color-coded ones from Pillowfort.
10. Use tubeless toilet paper.
11. Use a menstrual cup or cloth pads.
I 1now, I know… Now we are getting personal, but seriously… Think about how much paper (and plastic) goes into the production of disposable pads & tampons. Making the switch to a menstrual cup or cloth can make a huge difference in the amount of waste that is generated in your home and it will save you money each month.
12. Use the “Two-Sided” printing option.
This is so simple, but it is often overlooked. Just click the “two-sided” or “duplex” button when you go to print a document. This can reduce your paper waste by 50%!
13. Sign up for e-statements instead of paper statements.
Contact your bank, doctor offices, and other companies that send bills or statements to your mailbox. Ask them to add you to their electronic list and remove you from the paper mailing list.
14. Compost your paper!
15. Turn used paper into seed-starting pots.
You can fold up used paper to form a small biodegradable pot to start seeds in. Just fold it up enough to hold a little soil, poke a seed down into the soil, and place the whole pot into the ground when it is ready for transplanting. This simple project help to reduce paper waste and it saves money that you would typically spend on gardening supplies.
16. Use newspapers and paper trash in your Back to Eden garden.
I collect old stacks of newspaper from my local printing press and reuse them in my Back to Eden garden. The papers are laid out in a single layer across the garden to serve as ground cover and weed control.
17. Opt out of junk mail
There are several ways that you can ditch junk mail. I prefer using opt-out websites that allow you to be removed from multiple mailing lists at once. These are the websites that I have used to opt out of junk mail, catalogs, and directories.