In the last 20 years the use of paper products increased by 126%, growing from 92 million tons to 208. In fact, United States ranks second in paper consumption, a close second behind China. Looking at paper consumption per person instead of country, USA ranks first by a long shot. In fact, the average person in the US uses more than 700 pounds of paper every year. All this paper composes the largest component of solid waste in the American landfills. Most of the paper products that are used day to day are used out of convenience, with no forethought of its origins or the final end. By being aware of paper used on a daily basis, the number of tons in our landfill can be greatly reduced, improving air quality and conserving valuable resources and energy! Here are a few of my personal favorite paper eliminating tricks:
- Junk mail has to go. (Most of us want it to go too). Paper Karma is an app that will unsubscribe you from the paper mail spam, saving you the time of going through it, and the paper that it uses.
- Go digital. This one is relatively simple due to the impact technology has been gaining year to year. Save your documents as PDFs and save them to your device instead of printing them. If you need to print, try to use both sides of the paper.
- Use a USB or cloud services to share documents. This one is quite simple but it is surprising how often documents are printed when the document could be kept digitally.
- Use cloth napkins and washable plates and silverware.
- When using paper, try to go for recycled paper, making it eco friendly and keeping it out of landfills.
It comes down to a matter of habit and awareness. Be aware of your habits, and change them accordingly, and little by little, watch your paper consumption decrease, while your newly created habits impact the environment and others around you, in the best way possible.