By TreeLiving

We’ve been through the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages and now we might just be in the paper age. Instead of the paperless office that people dreamed of when computers came in, the technology has meant that at home and work, there’s paper everywhere. With computer paper cheap to buy, it’s easy to take it for granted and forget how many trees go into it. Even though it’s a renewable resource, conserving paper and recycling it is the eco-friendly way to go.

To start with, you can cut down on your paper use by thinking before you press print. Do you really need a hard copy? If it’s only going to take up part of a page, can you wait and print out related documents on the same page? Or use A5 paper for small size printouts? By being printer prudent you’ll save money on pricey printer ink too.

For documents you absolutely have to print, there are lots of ways to make your paper go further. Use a smaller font. Don’t use double spacing. If you need more white space on a text-heavy page, choose one and a half spacing. Change the margin settings for your document. Over time these small changes add up. The biggest saver of all will be printing both sides of the page. You may want to buy a slightly thicker paper for this but you’ll still save close to half with this option.

The other top strategy for using paper efficiently is to recycle it. There are lots of ways to do this. Use scrap paper with white space or blank reverse for notes, telephone messages and the like.  Pieces of paper always come useful, and you don’t have to buy special note pads. To make your own, cut it to desired size and keep it together with a suitable clip.

Shredded paper is useful stuff too. For small quantities a manual shredder (not electric) is ideal. You can use the shreds for packing delicate items that you need to mail. You can also put it in the compost heap. In fact, you don’t even need to shred it, though it will decompose faster. Scrunched up paper is useful in the compost bin because it provides air spaces, and the organisms that make your compost need that oxygen to work efficiently.

Shredded paper can also be used as bedding for small animals like rabbits and hamsters. Reusing old paper is a lot cheaper than straw or wood shavings. You may want to use it as a base layer and mix it half and half with other bedding materials. The whole lot can also go into the compost eventually. If you don’t do composting, keep your paper separate so that it can go for pulping, instead of to the landfill. They’re overflowing, but if we use paper more efficiently we can all help to make a difference.  

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