Ten Tips to Reduce Your Paper Footprint

   By scentednights  Jul 28, 2011

I remember when computers first came out and they were going to help us reduce our use of paper. No longer would we have to print so many things out because we could save copies of them on the computer and email each other. As computers got more advanced, scanning promised to be the new future of copying. Except, it seems like I am still printing out as many things as I used to. I'm certainly still getting as much junk mail as I used to and more catalogs than ever before.

While I recycle all of the paper that I need to dispose of, it still seems like such a waste to throw paper into the recycle bucket that's still perfectly good on one side. Here are a few ways that we creatively re-use paper before it goes into the recycle bucket.

1. Tear paper that is blank on one side into scrap note paper. I leave a stack near the telephone to write messages on. Once both sides are full, it goes in the recycle bucket.

2. Make your own envelopes out of paper that is blank on one side. Just carefully tear apart an existing envelope and use that as a template to create a new envelope. Fold together carefully and seal with a glue stick. You can even use patterned paper like calendars or maps. Just make sure the paper is heavy enough and use a label if it's not easy to see writing on.

3. Use old maps, funny papers or paper bags to wrap gifts. You don't need to go out and buy wrapping paper. Repurpose some interesting paper you already have in the house. Tie it with some funky ribbon, string or yarn to make a real statement.

4. Shred the paper and use it as filler in packages you mail, Easter baskets, gift baskets or when you're moving. Much better for the environment than those awful peanuts. You can even compost it!

5. Use newspaper to wash your windows and mirrors. Seriously. Just crumble up a piece, spray your window or mirror with glass cleaner and use like you would a paper towel. It doesn't leave streaks. Money saving and better for the environment.

6. Let the kids color on the backs of the junk mail. You don't need to buy coloring books or drawing paper. If they like to have pictures to color, print out a free coloring page on the back of the junk mail for them. Or if you're artistic, draw it yourself and save ink.

7. Teach the kids the art of paper folding. While many origami designs require special papers, there are lots of ways to make footballs, little boxes, swans, etc. out of recycled paper. This works great using magazine pages because the paper is lighter weight.

8. If you have extra pretty papers like tissue paper laying around but have no use for it, you can use it to create beautiful decoupage items. Just pick up some decoupage glue (Modge Podge) at the craft store. I turned plain glass votive holders into gorgeous decoupaged glass holders using this method. Just apply a thing layer of Modge Podge and carefully layer little torn pieces of tissue paper over it following with another layer of Modge Podge until it's covered.

9. Reuse heavier pieces of paper as tags for gifts at Christmas and birthdays. This works especially well for cards we get for our birthdays and holidays especially cards from places from our mortgage company or realtors. Who wants to save those?

10. If you still have too much junk mail, consider removing yourself from people's junk lists. Add your name to the national do not mail list.

What are some ways you re-use your junk mail or excess paper?  I love coming up with new, creative ideas!

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basilandcatnip by basilandcatnip | GARLAND, TX
Aug 09, 2011

I remember my older cousins using old maps as wall paper in one of the bedrooms. And my cats love paper balls, and to slide on paper piles I set out for them on the floor... they take a running start and zip... I also put down a scrap piece of paper when painting my toes or nails, instead of using a towel or new paper towel.

DianeHoffmaster by DianeHoffmaster | LILBURN, GA
Aug 01, 2011

thanks for these great tips!

scentednights by scentednights | CASTLETON, VT
Jul 31, 2011

Great idea! I sometimes use the backs for my grocery lists too and I can slip my coupons inside.

RoscoeRamblingsJen by RoscoeRamblingsJen | ROSCOE, IL
Jul 28, 2011

Great tips! One additional thing I do is save the reply envelopes that come with credit card offers and other pieces of junk mail. It seems like I'm always sending something in an envelope to school with my oldest daughter. I would rather use one of these 'free' junk envelopes, rather than one of my nice ones. I simply cross out the pre-printed part and write 'lunch money' or whatever it is that I'm sending.