How to Rid Paper from Your Life, Save Money and Save Trees

Paper
Clutter
Sucks!

Paper sucks! It’s clutter and it’s always piled in junky piles on the counter.

Most of it is unnecessary, junk mail, useless coupons, and bills you already paid online. 

Wasting paper is bad for the environment. The TREES PEOPLE! THE TREEEEEEEEESSS! 

So, what can we do about this awful phenomenon? We can try our best to conquer it and reduce the load as much as possible. 

I’m going to show you some different categories of paper you may have, and how to conquer the sh!t out of it.

Mail 

The mail will be your main source of paper. And it’s time to teach your mailbox a thing or two. 

In your mailbox you can find: 

  • Junk mail
  • Letters/cards from family
  • Bills
  • Important notices

Junk Mail

Junk mail can be fought AND WON! Just go to these websites and try to unsubscribe from these things:

These websites probably won’t stop every single piece of junk mail coming in, but it can reduce it significantly.

Another thing to keep in mind to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive is to be careful where you enter your address online. Signing up for free trials or free samples sometimes results in junk mail flowing through. READ THE FINE PRINT!

Bills

Bills can be made digital! Sign up for e-billing at all your providers. Sometimes signing up for e-billing saves you money. Some places charge a fee to send your bills in the mail. 

Stopping paper statements and bills is better for the environment because it saves paper, ink, and emissions from transportation.

If your provider does not offer paperless billing, ask them about it, switch providers or have a system in place to deal with the clutter as it comes in.

Letters

Letters and cards from family can’t stop; won’t stop. And they are the fun part of your mail, honestly. 

If you still get handwritten letters, then, by all means, keep those things. My only suggestion is to keep the ones that are special to you and that don’t provoke negative feelings.

And when you write back, you can reduce your waste by using eco-friendly options. Such as this pack of awesome biodegradable paper. Or scrap paper.

If you are getting overwhelmed, you can ask your friends and family to stop or have a system in place to enjoy the mail and then recycle it after a set amount of time. 

For example, if you have a family who enjoys sending Christmas cards every year, you don’t have to keep them around after the holidays.

Important Notices

Important notices are tax forms, medical bills, speeding tickets, etc. There’s not a way to stop these, so you’ll have to deal with the matter then file or recycle it.

You can’t completely stop mail from coming. You can try your best to stop the flow, but there will be times where the mail is a must.

Important Paperwork 

Well, you kinda need those important papers around. Defining what “important paperwork” is will be crucial to cutting down on the paper that sticks around. 

Taxes

Tax-related documents are important. It is advised that you keep tax paperwork around for seven years. However with digital filing methods these days, you don’t have to keep around a lot of the paperwork. 

When I digitally file my taxes, I keep digital records for each year. The only physical paperwork I have is whatever tax forms were mailed to me from employers.

Identification

Birth certificates and any other papers for identification purposes are important. This includes social security cards, VISAs, passports and wedding certificates.

Not Important

Bills that can be accessed online are not important. Past bills are not important. Current insurance policies may be important if there’s not a copy on the online portal. 

Court records that are over and done with can be tossed. Or they can be scanned on your computer. 

Keep important paperwork somewhere safe so you don’t lose it, and it’s easily accessible when you need it.

Because the number one cause of waste is having to produce something new because you misplaced the original.

Receipts 

Opt for digital receipts where possible and then recycle the rest. You don’t need physical receipts. 

If you made a big purchase, scan the receipt and wait the number of days on the return policy before recycling. 

If you have a receipt for tax purposes, scan the receipt and add it to your important paperwork pile. 

Keep digital records as much as possible. And unless you truly need it for budget purposes, don’t keep random day-to-day receipts. Mark it off your budget and recycle the damn things.

Kids Artwork 

Photographs are your best friend when it comes to kids projects and artwork. 

Children can bring home a new piece of artwork every single day! If you kept every piece, you will drown in paper. 

It’s okay to recycle artwork. Choose favorites for the fridge and be done with it. If you are having trouble letting go, you can take pictures of the artwork to have a digital memory of it. This will save lots of space.

Notebooks, Journals, Planners 

A big paper clutter category is notebooks. Notebooks can take a lot of room, cause clutter and waste paper. 

How many half-used notebooks do you currently have on your shelf? Quit the notebook habit by using the ones you already have, finding digital solutions or investing in technology that acts like pen and paper.

Use What You Have

The best place to start reducing paper waste and saving money is to use up what you already have. 

You may already have used notebooks in your house that are forgotten about. Rip out the used pages and treat it as a fresh notebook.

Scrap paper is good for a notepad, todo lists, and letters.

Find the used books and make them new again!

Digital Solutions

Digital solutions to notebooks include Google Docs, Google Keep, Evernote, Asana, Trello and any other notepad app you can find. 

If you use notebooks as to-lists or planners, there are plenty of apps for that including Google Calendar and Todoist.

Digital solutions to journals include 750words, online diary, or a personal blog with WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr. All these solutions are private and can be password protected.

There is a website or app for just about every need nowadays. All you have to do it search for “good free website for ___” or “good free app for ___”.

Fill in the blank with anything including:

  • Journaling
  • Planning
  • Todo Lists
  • Notebook
  • Notes
  • Planner
  • Project planning

Digital solutions should be your first choice. They are mostly free and will save you from buying a new notebook. They also save on paper.

Notebook Technology

Smart notebooks, graphics tablets, and tablets with styluses are amazing alternatives to notebooks. However, there is a price to pay, and that is… the f@cking price. 

These will not be cheap, but if you’re an avid notebook user, the savings, in the long run, may be worth it.

Here are some cool tech gadgets that act as a physical notebook without using paper.

It takes some adjustments to learn how to use these devices but saving paper, money, and clutter, in the long run, is worth it.

Books, Magazines, and Newspapers

I don’t want to say books are a waste of paper but 30 million trees are being cut down to produce the massive amount of books in production each year. 

Buying ebook versions of books cut down on physical clutter and are cheaper. If you need physical books in your hand, then do your best to buy used, second-hand books. 

Buying used is almost always a better decision. You can keep those used books from going to the landfill and you can prevent more trees from being cut down.

Now the book industry is getting better, so if you’re addicted to the smell of a crisp, new book, you don’t have to feel overly guilty. Just choose wisely. 

And make a decision based on how you want your space to look. Do you want your space to be filled with a lot of books? Do you want the weight if you ever have to move?

Magazines and newspapers are now digital as well. But consider stopping your subscription and replacing your magazines with online blogs of the same topic. Many newspapers also have their news outlets online. 

There’s absolutely no reason to pay for the news these days. All the international, global and local news is just a Google search away.

There’s no need to keep the paper clutter around. Many libraries also have the latest issues of magazines so you can read and enjoy them there.

Paper Towels, Napkins, Tissues and Toilet Paper 

I can’t say much about toilet paper. There is recycled toilet paper, but I’m not going to judge you on your wiping choices. However, you could install a bidet at home and use that. Just an idea! 

I’m mostly concerned with paper towels, napkins, and tissues. People tend to use paper towels and napkins for no good reason. Instead of wasting paper towels just to throw it away, use rags and towels to clean up messes. 

You can reuse rags, dishcloths, and towels over and over again. You don’t even have to buy new ones to replace paper towels. You can cut up an old towel you were thinking about throwing away. You can cut up old cotton clothes you were about to throw out. 

There’s no need for paper towels and napkins. You can also bring them with you while your traveling to help with messes. It’s not hard to bring along a few more things! 

You can get started right now and just stop buying paper towels and napkins. Be resourceful. Get creative and save that green!

As for tissues, handkerchiefs are coming back into style! Before you scream at the “grossness” I suggested, hear me out. If you have children or if you ever soil yourself, do you throw the clothes away?

Most likely not. You just clean it well and then forget that it ever happened!

The same can be applied to hankies. You blow your nose into them. Then you can clean them and BOOM you didn’t throw anything away. You saved a piece of paper from being thrown into the landfill.

You have to be proactive in keeping the whole situation sanitary. Carry around several handkerchiefs. Only use them ONCE before putting them in a separate “dirty” pile. The dirty pile can be a separate container.

Then wash the sh!t out of them. Keep them sanitary. And then you can save that green!

Save the Trees 

The last way to rid paper from your life is to be proactive.

Whenever you find odds and ends of paper out and about, do these three steps: 

  1. Stop the flow. Find the source and be sure to put a stop to it. 
  2. Declutter what you have. 
  3. Recycle or throw in a fire pit.

And that’s all there is to it! Is there someone bringing in a lot of paper into your home? Do the steps above!

Put a stop to it and ask them to stop. Declutter what they brought in by throwing the unimportant ones in the fire pit!

That’s just one scenario. Your life will throw a lot of unforeseen sh!t your way. All you can do is save that green and be proactive. 

Get Rid of Paper

This article showed you how to rid the paper in your life.

What are your steps? 

  1. Conquer your mail from spitting out paper at you. 
  2. Organize your important paperwork. 
  3. Get a handle on your receipts. 
  4. Take pictures of your kids’ artwork and recycle. 
  5. Find digital solutions to notebooks, journals and planners use up the notebooks you already have. 
  6. Buy or borrow used books and magazines.
  7. Use reusable solutions for paper towels and napkins.
  8. Save the trees!

Did I miss a category of paper? Let me know below so I can update the article on the best way to keep your paper usage down.

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Take the 7-Day Decluttering Challenge

* indicates required

In order to receive email from Green as a Thistle, legislation in Europe says you have to check a box giving consent. Sorry for the extra step, friend!


You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.