How to use less paper

Ways to save paper with your phone

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How to use less paper and be more efficient in your life – that’s the question. I have the answer and it lies in your phone and your tablet! They are the best tools for going paperless.

My iPad has rescued me from the horrible collection of paper that used to be the bane of my existence! The business cards, the receipts, the coupons – it was all mess stressing me the heck out. To be perfectly honest, environmental responsibility falls a distant second to my nagging need to reduce clutter in my world. Sure, I care about the environment, but I care most about the micro environments closest to me – my handbag, my home, my car and my office.

As you know, paper is made from wood fibers and natural glue. The website The World Counts.Com says 93% of paper comes from trees. That’s a big percentage. The site also says technology did not decrease our dependence on this important resource. Go figure, huh? In fact, it states that the “demand” for it “is expected to double before 2030.”

Geez. That’s a lot of trees we will lose.

So, the next time you’re at the office and accuse someone of killing trees because of paper waste, you’re really telling the truth. This is unfortunate because trees serve an important role in our environment. In my humble research, I found a few ways trees make our lives better. You know them all, but humor me.

1. They’re pretty. (OK. We knew that one.)

2. They support the ecosystem. Did you know some birds and animals rely on trees for shelter, food and to exist? Of course you did.

3. Trees pull toxins from the air.  The Arbor Environmental Alliance says one tree can “absorb CO2 at a rate of 48 lb. per year”.  That’s only one tree.  They filter pollution to help us stay healthy. The American Forestry Association estimates 100 million new trees would absorb 18 million tons of carbon dioxide and cut US air conditioning costs by $4 billion annually.  Bet you didn’t know that!

I’d love to pose as this uber socially-conscious person and impress you, but I’m really not. My ultimate motivator to use less paper is simply because I HATE it. Paper, in it’s various forms, breeds clutter and I abhor clutter. Ever see those shows about hoarders on television? Paper is usually a major contributor to all the mess – that and the need for some serious counseling, but I digress.

how to use less paper

Anyway, I’m always searching for creative ways my cell phone can make my life easier. Let me share a few. Maybe you’ll be inspired too:

1. Take pictures of important documents, receipts and information. Anymore, if you show me any doc, I’m likely to take a shot of it with my phone. I snap meeting agendas; business cards (people hand me) and more. I email them to my personal email account for safe keeping.

2. Screenshots. When I’m online, instead of printing a web page (or traffic directions people email me), I take a screen shot. On Apple products (iPhone and iPad), just press the power button and the home key together to take a picture of the screen. If you use android products, you can capture the screen if you hold the power and volume-down buttons simultaneously.

3. Speak it. Instead of writing lists on paper, use Google Talk (or a similar app) to speak your list directly into an email or notepad app. This is how I handle my grocery lists.  After I dictate then, I email them to myself.  I then open it up when I arrive at the grocery store. Easy-peasy.  I also use Wunderlist for my groceries and tasks lists.  It’s a great app for managing projects too. Check it out. No more paper lists.

4.  Have you tried digital books? Reading purists may want to slap me here because some avid readers the “tradition” of books almost sacred. They enjoy the ritual of turning the page, the aroma of it and the actual holding of a book. Hey, I was the same way. No, I kind of still am, but, I’m adjusting. I still like books.  However, digital ones are working their way into my heart little by little. They are cheaper and I love having my library with me wherever I go.  Plus, most smart phones have speak and accessibility functions  that transform any ebook into an audio one.  I love listening to my books as I drive or do housework.

How living paperless could change your life | Dominic Stühler | TEDxBerlin

Still not convinced? Opt for used books. That’s a great form of recycling. I’m not a huge fan of them myself, but my friends love them. They are regulars at bookstores and “Half Price Books” in Kansas City. Go ahead and give them a try. Just ignore the stained pages and boogers left from previous owners. Just kidding! *No, I’m not.*

You know, along the same lines, I’m really getting into digital magazines too. Some of them include videos and special add-ins you would never get from the one-dimensional, traditional paper ones. My favorite is Oprah’s “O” Magazine. Again, they are cheaper. Cheaper is good. You’ll find online subscriptions are almost always less expensive.

5. Nowadays, most retail and drug stores offer the option of electronic receipts. As an old, over-40 chick, I’m still a little thrown off when I don’t receive that little piece of paper after a transaction. But, my handbag is thankful. I usually carry around way too many receipts and it makes my bag junky.

Yaaay to e-receipts! They mean I never have to search for that illusive paper receipt again. Nor will they clutter my handbag. Stores offering electronic receipts are: CVS, Macys, Walgreens, and select Walmarts.

I know. I know. I’ve heard stores use e-receipts as a way to get your email so they can spam you. Fortunately, I haven’t had this experience. Macy’s is the most stubborn about sending emails; but I shop online with them, so they’d have it anyway. Hey, they had my email long before I started using electronic receipts. The convenience outweighs the risks, so I still opt for emailed receipts over the pesky paper ones.

Lots of people in my age group were not  really raised to be environmentally conscious. We have to be intentional about conservation. It’s definitely a paradigm shift for me.  Is it the same with you?

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    1. Me too! I started taking the wasted paper to a daycare up the street. I think waste is just as bad as clutter in my head. 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

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