How to Reduce Paper Waste At Home

17 Ways How to Reduce Paper Waste at Home

In today’s digital age, we might wonder about the persisting paper waste in our homes. Despite our digital lists and paper-free moves, we still use a lot of paper, producing a lot of waste. Whether receipts, packaging, and notes, paper still abounds. 

Yet, paper remains the most considerable fraction of solid waste in our landfills, slowly degrading while releasing potent greenhouse gases. Furthermore, less paper waste means fewer trees felled for its production, and that’s no bad thing in our fight against climate change. 

This article explores 17 ways to reduce paper waste in your home. You can also apply some of these tips in other living areas.

Related read: How to Reduce Paper Waste in the Office.

What is the problem with paper waste?

Child amongst paper waste confetti
Photo by May Gauthier on Unsplash.

Manufacturing paper is quite tedious, and it hurts the environment. Some of its environmental impacts include deforestation, high energy, and water usage. Paper production also contributes to air and water pollution. Luckily, paper waste is a biodegradable waste

However, excessive paper waste is dangerous for the environment. It leads to environmental litter. Litters breed bacteria and attract pests and rodents, destroying the area's balance. The waste paper also takes up landfill space. In 2018, statistics showed 17.2 million tons of paper waste entered landfills in the United States1.

As landfills fill up, we expand and cover more land space. Also, the economy spends a lot on transporting waste to the landfill. Producing more waste will lead to an increase in transporting and treating waste paper costs. 

Also, some people burn paper waste. Burning paper waste is dangerous as it contributes to climate change by releasing greenhouse gases. As such, reducing our paper waste is better for the environment. 

Related read: Environmental Impact of Landfills.

17 ways to reduce paper waste at home

1. Use reusable cloth napkins instead of paper towels.

We waste a lot of paper on producing single-use paper napkins and towels. The costs can also add up if you are from a large household. However, switching to cloth napkins or reusable paper towels reduces cost and paper waste.

Using a cloth napkin lasts longer than using a paper towel to clean your home. Clothes are easily reusable because you can wash them as often as needed. Also, cloth napkins are better because they are more absorbent and clean surfaces better than paper products. 

2. Get a coffee maker that doesn't use a paper filter. 

Most coffee makers in our homes use paper filters made from paper designed solely for making coffee. A coffee paper filter helps remove sediments and impurities from a coffee drink. 

You can get a filterless zero-waste coffee maker to avoid contributing to the stream of paper waste in the environment. Filterless coffee makers don't require the use of paper filters, which helps in reducing paper waste. These types of coffee makers have a built-in metal mesh filter. It is easier and brews your coffee faster. 

Also, you can switch from paper filters to reusable metal filters. You can use them for a long time if you clean them properly after each use.

3. Get reusable snack bags. 

Most times, they pack our favorite snacks in plastic or paper bags. Many of us love snacks, buying them for ourselves and loved ones regularly, especially children. Imagine the amount of paper that goes to waste weekly. 

Get a reusable zip lock bag to reduce paper waste to carry those yummy healthy snacks. You can keep multiple reusable snack bags in your car, office, and house. Having these reusable containers around makes it easy for you to shun those single-use paper snack bags. 

Also, you can get reusable bags of various sizes to fulfill other roles you use paper bags for. Using paper bags for grocery shopping isn't advisable because they are weak. They spoil and tear easily with slight contact with water. In addition, paper bags cannot hold heavy items. Use reusable plates instead of paper plates and cups.  

4. Recycle used paper. 

There are various ways you can recycle the papers you use at home. First, you can attempt to trash them inside recycling bins. Throwing them inside recycling cans gives them a second chance at life because they are going to recycling centers. 

However, you can also recycle papers in the comfort of your home. There are multiple ways you can recycle paper. You can use them as compost. Paper is an important and healthy component of a compost heap because it is from natural raw materials. It benefits your garden by increasing its nutrients and moisture content. 

Also, you can use old paper to make new, recycled paper. Research the materials and best methods to recycle paper at home

However, throwing large quantities of paper in the recycling bin is better to avoid taking up space in your home. Remember not to include dirty paper in the recycling bin as it is not recyclable. Instead, they'll take up landfill space and cause pollution. 

We’ve got some helpful guides for common paper recycling:

5. Use digital note apps for to-do lists. 

note-taking waste paper

As the world is becoming more digital, we don't always need to take notes on physical paper. Mobile technology has made taking notes on our smartphones and tablets easier. Various free apps like Microsoft OneNote and Google Keep are available for writing your notes. 

You can easily customize and edit your notes into any category. You also don't have to worry about losing your notes because you can back them up in cloud storage. They are accessible unless you intentionally delete them. You're free from the fragility of paper notes. 

And if you just prefer taking notes on paper, grab an eco-friendly notebook or diary, many of them made from recycled and more sustainable eco-friendly paper varieties.

6. Use a board or laminated paper if you can’t keep up with digital use. 

Not everyone is comfortable using mobile phones to keep track of their task lists. However, a dry-erase board or a laminated board is a great solution to reduce paper waste. The boards are easy to wipe off and can be used repeatedly. You don’t have to run out of writing surfaces or buy more paper.  

7. Save money by reading news online instead of buying newspapers. 

Newspapers also contribute to paper waste in the environment. Mobile technology has made the transfer and consumption of information easier. You can get the digital versions of your favorite newspaper publication. 

Sometimes, the newspaper has a monthly subscription requirement. These fees are usually cheaper than buying newspapers daily. In addition, you can read e-books instead of purchasing hard copy versions or borrow from your local physical or online library. 

8. Ensure to write on both sides of the paper when taking notes. 

We waste paper when we don't maximize its use. Whenever you are writing on paper, make sure you write on both sides of the paper. 

9. Be more conscious about using recycled papers

There are stationery stores and paper brands that sell recycled papers. Recycling papers give them a new life. It reduces the use of virgin materials and its impact on the earth. Manufacturers use recycled paper to make eco-friendly toilet paper, paper towels, paper dinnerware, pencils, etc. 

How do you know a product produced with recycled paper? 

Check the labels on the paper products to see their recycled content. Manufacturers add the percentage of recycled content used to make a particular product. A high recycled paper content is excellent for the environment.

10. Choose products that use as little paper as possible for packaging. 

Paper packaging is a significant contributor to high levels of paper production. Manufacturers use many raw materials to produce packaging for various items. These packaging materials contribute to waste in our homes. Another way to reduce paper waste is by purchasing goods with less paper packaging.  

Paper is the best material for packaging goods, but too much of everything is bad. It's better to avoid excessive paper unless it is recycled paper. Some business brands gather papers used neatly and give them a second chance at life by using them as packaging. It reduces the costs of producing fresh paper, resulting in less packaging. 

11. Use email instead of paper mail. 

email on a cell phone
Photo by Yogas Design on Unsplash.

Avoid Post-it notes and paper mail and, instead, opt for e-mails. The traditional post requires lots of paper use and other disadvantages like getting lost in transit and taking a long time to get to their recipient. 

So, open an email account if you don't have one yet, and send your email address to your loved ones and business associates. You don't have to worry about signing documents because you can do it on your mobile phone. 

12. Only print if it's necessary. 

One of the ways to reduce paper waste is to print when necessary. It is unnecessary to print every document out. We can now save documents and e-books on our mobile devices. Cloud storage, like Google Drive, makes our saved documents easily accessible from any device from any part of the world. 

We can easily lose or damage printed documents and print them again. Also, they take up a lot of storage space, and we can forget them elsewhere. Using digitally saved documents makes handling easy and seamless with less printing. 

13. Reusable paper products are better than disposable ones. 

Another way to reduce paper waste in our homes is to avoid disposable paper items. Disposable paper plates are like disposable plastic plates, except plastic plates are more harmful. Disposable paper dinnerware can increase the levels of paper waste in the environment. 

Get reusable paper dinnerware so that you can clean it after each use. You can also get reusable options in stainless steel, ceramics, and glass. They are more durable. They also add a classic touch to your dinner table.

Further, reusable food containers and eco-friendly lunchboxes are better than single-use paper packaging for things like sandwiches because they are dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe. And, of course, you can use a reusable bag time and again. 

14. Opt for e-statements and receipts 

Many banks now offer e-bills and receipts. Avoid collecting paper receipts and statements from your banks if possible. Ask before your transaction that your receipt be emailed to you instead of printed. This will reduce how much paper banks use during their operations. Thankfully, many businesses now offer e-receipts and e-bills to their customers—request to receive e-receipts and e-bills and watch how you reduce waste significantly. 

14. Opt for bamboo toilet papers 

Toilet papers are in high demand, so it increases paper consumption. Toilet paper is essential in a home, so opt for toilet paper from renewable energy sources. Bamboo toilet paper is a perfect example. Manufacturers use bamboo pulp to create bamboo toilet paper. Some manufacturers even mix it with recycled paper. Bamboo toilet paper benefits our economy and environment. 

15. Repurpose paper

Another way to reduce waste is to reuse paper to create new objects. For example, you can use old newspapers for craft projects, cleaning, camping aid, gift wraps, lining, etc. Reusing paper is a form of recycling paper and saves you from purchasing new products. 

You can reduce waste by using old papers for fun crafts like paper mache, sculpture, and decorations. Old paper also makes for a great fire starter. 

Conclusion 

Reducing paper waste starts in our homes and is easy to accomplish. You can add paper to other recycled materials and create a new product. You don't have to print out multiple copies of important documents. Instead, save paper by saving them to Google Drive. You can donate papers to art schools, artists, and small businesses that use paper as packaging. 

Properly set your emails to receive messages to avoid junk mail in your mailbox. There are many ways to reduce paper waste. Use some of these tips to reduce your paper usage and waste. Also, encourage others to take adequate steps to reduce paper waste in their environments.

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The United States Environmental Protection Agency. Paper and Paperboard: Material-Specific Data

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Photo by Steve Johnson
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