Does your household have an endless stream of incoming bills, magazines, catalogs, books, paper towels and paper napkins?
One of the things that seems to multiply by the day in any house is paper. New paper requires both newly cut trees and tons of gallons of water and chemicals for processing, so reducing how much you use is key to greening your home.
Here are some basics for controlling the paper in your life:
Junk Mail and Catalogs
The first step is to not let it enter your home!
Let the subscription to magazines that you don't thoroughly enjoy (and read each month!) run out. For catalogs, call the customer service line and ask to be removed (referencing your customer number works well). Delivery should stop within 6–8 weeks. When they ask, make sure to let them know your green reasons for cancelling.
Use online services, such as catalogchoice.org and 41pounds.org, to stop unwanted catalogs AND junk mail. At Catalog Choice, you can enter your catalog information and mailers will be contacted to opt you out—for free! Other services range from just over $8 per year to $20 per year to have your name removed from direct-mail company lists—resulting in about 41 fewer pounds of mail per year.
Packing up to 1,500 books onto one device will reduce the use of lots of paper and ink. If you are a fan of bound books, there’s no need to go cold turkey. But for easy reads, one-use paperbacks, and free downloads, an e-reader can be a great addition to the library.
Single-use paper products for the kitchen abound. If you use paper towels, napkins, and disposable plates and cups, you have an opportunity to reduce waste.
Replace paper towels with rags that can be used for spills and routine cleaning. Paper napkins can be replaced by cloth napkins, which are available at reasonable prices and in fun prints (which hide inevitable stains!). Don’t use paper plates and cups for family meals, or even for parties if you have enough place settings for all the guests.
Upload photos to online photo storage sites for sharing, and print only those images you want to display or give away. Plan out the photos you want to put in an album before printing.
Pay bills and track accounts online. Then you can begin to cancel the paper bills you receive each month since many utilities, credit cards, and banks offer e-bills as a replacement. And many banks are now offering phone apps that allow account management on the go.
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