Reduce Paper Use, Save More Green


A green attitude toward paper use may mean more green paper for you.

(Money, we mean.)

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans produced more than 250 million tons of trash in 2007. Paper made up roughly 33%, or 82 million tons, of that trash.

“The paper industry is going deeper into underdeveloped areas to make paper, most of which goes into landfills,” says Joshua Martin, network coordinator for the Environmental Paper Network. “It’s taken hundreds of years to create these complex ecosystems, now they’re used to make toilet paper that is flushed down the drain.”

While paper recycling among municipalities has more than doubled in the last decade, according to the EPA’s figures, consumers can still do more to help preserve the environment.

Here are a few quick tips on how you can cut your paper consumption:

1. Look into electronic banking. These days, there’s little reason to write a check. Banks such as Chase (Stock Quote: JPM), Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC), Citibank (Stock Quote: C) and Wells Fargo (Stock Quote: WFC) allow you to check your balance, transfer money from one account to another and pay your bills online. (You'll save on stamps!)  Even smaller lenders are in on the action. Contact your local bank or the Federal Trade Commission to find out if electronic banking is right for you.

2. Send your messages electronically. Use e-mail and sites such as, and Facebook to send notes and invitations to friends and loved ones.

3. Remove yourself from unwanted mailing lists. Everyone gets junk mail. Instead of chucking it out only to wait for the next batch, contact the mail distribution company and tell them that you want off their list.

Consumers can also remove themselves from most national mailing lists by registering online with the Direct Mail Association’s Mail Preference Service. They can cut the number of pre-approved credit card notices sent by contacting the data service Innovis at (888) 5-OPT-OUT.

4. Use a dish towel. Spending $2.79 on a roll of paper towels can be costly and wasteful. A pack of four Kitchen Aid dish towels goes for $7 at Walmart (Stock Quote: WMT) and lasts far longer. (Thrifty consumers can also use old bath towels and unwearable clothes to clean up around the house.)

5. Get a brand new bag.
The person checking your groceries at the local Safeway (Stock Quote: SWY)  may ask you if you want paper or plastic, but there is a third option: a reusable bag. ACME bags’ Workhorse model weighs 1.5 ounces and holds more than 25 pounds. You can purchase this bag and others at for $5.95.

6. Think before you print. Staring at a computer all day may not be good for your eyes, but taking a little more time to read something before you print it out could have a positive effect on the environment, because you won’t have to print again when you catch the odd typo. And always use spell check before you send anything to your printer.




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