the pursuit of paperless

I detest waste. Waste of any kind be it water, food, paper, time, money. I am cheap and frugal with most everything, often to an absurd extent and at a level that leaves me frequently peeved with the heedless habits of others. I won’t hesitate to insert myself into someone else’s dish washing duty, despite my detestation of dish washing and delight that someone else is handling said duty, simply to turn down the water that is cranked unreasonably high and sometimes during the soaping process at which point water on period, let alone full blast, is inane. My waste wariness once lead me to sit down with a pile of Pete’s old Hanes t-shirts and cut them into little napkin sized bits to use in place of paper towels at our meals (Our being mine and Pete’s. When guests come we tend to bust out slightly classier cloth options. Frugality has it’s place and the dinner party is not it). That was actually one of the smartest things I’ve ever done because those shirts were headed to the trash and instead they’ve saved us who knows how many hundreds of dollars on paper towels, they take up nominal space in the washing machine and the environment surely thanks us for reducing our impact. Paper towels are the pits.

Paper in general is my enemy, and I’ve decided to ramp up our pursuit of paperless, both at home and the office. Here’s a lovely little list of things we have done/are doing/will do to help defeat the paper monster:

1. Stop junk mail! Register yourself on the National Do Not Mail List. Take the time to call the companies that send you credit card solicitations and contemptible catalogs and request to be removed (If you are ever foolish enough to order that monogrammed silver-plated breakfast tray from Pottery Barn, you’re damn sure not going to fill out a catalog order form in lieu of ordering online).

2. Use the backside! If you’ve printed something and don’t need it anymore, flip it over and put the paper back in the printer. Next time you print something, it will (assuming you’ve loaded the paper properly) print on the back. Twice the usage just like that. Same holds for written lists. Both sides. No reason not to.

3. Better yet, don’t print it at all! Every time you go to print something, stop and ask yourself if it’s really necessary. Could you email it instead? Or maybe just make a note somewhere on an already partially used piece of paper with the info you need? I guarantee you’ll print less if you take a super quick moment to consider the necessity.

4. Pay bills online. Duh. If you aren’t already doing this whenever possible, go away.

Going completely paperless is quite the pipe dream, but what items we do still require in tangible form are recycled when no longer needed. This in itself takes a little extra effort because sadly our great little town does not allow magazines, catalogs, chip board or other non-corrugated and non-newspaper items in our bins. Carrboro does, and so I collect items in a bag and haul them to work.

PS Two decent blog posts for more thoughts and ideas: The Complete Guide to Going Paperless from Lifehacker and 19 Tips for Making Your Home Paperless from Simple Mom.

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