Going zero waste does not only mean avoiding plastic, which cannot be properly recycled, but avoiding paper and everything that can be recycled too. While paper might not be the most harmful waste, we still need to cut down forests and use all that energy and water in the production process. Here are some tips to reduce or avoid paper consumption:
Paperless on the go
- Refuse flyers, free magazines, programs, business cards and so on. I sometimes look at them, save the information in my phone and give them back.
- Download e-tickets on your phone. I do that even if it does not say that it is allowed and have never had a problem. When I had to hold longer presentations at university, I put text on my e-reader.
- Try to avoid receipts. I found some shops and cafes that do not print them out, however, that is not always possible.
- Avoid using paper napkins in restaurants and cafes.
- Have a cotton bag with you when you stop at the bakery.
- Get reusable plates instead of paper plates when you have a picnic.
- Avoid using paper towels in public toilets. I just air dry my hands.
- Switch kitchen paper towels for cotton or microfiber towels.
- Buy food in bulk.
- Quit takeaway food and food deliveries.
- Switch paper tissues for handkerchiefs. I though it is gonna be horrible but I actually love it.
- Use a towel to remove make-up. I put coconut oil on my face and just swipe it in a towel. Quit Q-tips, sanitary pads and tampons while you are at it.
- Buy toilet paper from recycled materials or, even better, instal a bidet sprayer. I have been thinking about investing into this (if anyone wants to buy me an awkward present).
- Go digital with your notebooks, journals and whatever you are using to organise yourself. I like Evernote, Dropbox, Google Calendar, and just plain old Word documents, Excell sheets and file folders.
- Do not print if possible, but if you have to then print it on both sides with a small font.
- Make a scan of your hand signature and put it in documents like a picture. That way you do not need to print a document, sign it and scan before sending it by e-mail.
- Buy recycled/thinner/non-glossy paper.
- Use writing boards in meetings and classrooms.
- Recycle old paper, obviously.
- Re-use paper for art projects, to-do lists, for gift wrapping, selling stuff online and so on. Don’t buy any new paper before checking if you can reuse something.
- Quit online shopping to avoid excessive packaging.
- Send e-cards and tell people not to send you cards by mail. Make sure to do that before the holidays or your birthday.
- Switch newspaper and magazines subscriptions for their digital versions.
- Put a “no junk mail” sticker on your mailbox and if you are receiving any junk mail addressed to you specifically, contact the companies and ask them to stop. Switch to paperless bills and pay them online.
- Read e-books, buy second-hand books, swap them or borrow from libraries and friends.
Did I forget anything?
Telephone booth turned into book booth at S-Bahn Station Grunewald in Berlin