046: Top 5 Tips for Reducing Paper Waste

We spend a lot of time talking about plastic waste and there is a lot of great movement in the direction of eliminating single-use plastic in communities all around the world. Paper on the other hand, while biodegradable, makes up a large portion of landfill waste and is often not recycled properly. In today’s episode, we discuss how to reduce yourĀ paper usage, how to avoid wasting paper and how to recycle it properly.

Fact: Did you know that 40% of industrial logging goes into producing paper products?


#5 – Print using less paper…and this doesn’t JUST mean printing less. Here’s what I mean:

  • Buy thinner paper
  • Print on both sides
  • Print using scratch paper…the back of just about anything is good as long as it doesn’t have sensitive info on the other side
  • Print 2, 4 or even 6 or 8 sheets per side. Instructions for this are here for Macs and Windows 7 and then here for all things PowerPoint.

#4 – Reusable bags at the grocery store instead of paper ones AND avoid paper receipts…they’re usually toxic!

#3 – Reuse cardboard boxes

  • Send a package with a used box
  • Store something in it instead of putting it in the recycling bin
  • Use it for oddly sized items that you can never seem to find a container for
  • Send it back to the company (if they have a recycling program) full of older orders or other flattened boxes
  • Use it to make a donation to a charity using GiveBackBox.com

#2 – Try reusable cloth napkins

  • Use old clothing, window coverings that no longer fit or just old fabric you’ve got lying around to make cut some cloth napkins
  • You tend to eat a lot less messy when you have to wash your mess up instead of sending it to the landfill.

#1 – Empty your mailbox of junk mail

There are lots of options for getting rid of unwanted mail depending on the location you live in. In parts of Europe and Australia, you can simply get a sticker that tells the postal working to skip your box as far as mass mailers but here in the States it is not so easy. That is why I am so thankful for the service PaperKarma…the first time I used them I literally forgot they existed because it was so effective. Now that I’ve settled in one place here in LA I use it everytime I get an unwanted piece of mail. Now I just get checks, not junk šŸ™‚


PaperKarma is a one-of-a-kind app that helps you get rid of junk mail once and for all. Simply take a pic, press send, and PaperKarma does the rest. I’ve used this app plenty of time and it really is that easy.

Android users can download the appĀ here for a free trial. iPhone users can go here and use offer code GREENMIND to receiveĀ a 20% lifetime discount.

*PaperKarma is available for US residents only.

To Recycle or Not to Recycle:

Where you may not want to skimp and still keep the planet as a priority…

Toilet paper! But(t), do consider rolls that use recycled paper instead of virgin material. Although toilet paper using virgin material is softer (listen to the episode to know why) and depending on the manufacturer can have the same footprint in the manufacturing process, recycled material saves a LOT of trees. If paper is recycled properly they can be used 5 to 7 times, tissue and toilet paper being a possibility of a final non-recyclable product in a long line of uses.

Record keeping is important and for SOME things paper is the only option. Emergency documents for instance that you just must have on you or at home at all times, even if your phone or computer won’t always be accessible (ie: copies of birth certificates, driver’s licenses, social security number, important medical documents, car registration, etc.). But a lot of these can be printed on half sheets and multiple sheets to a page.

Sometimes handwritten is the way to go. Call me an old-fashioned girl but I like to write things down on paper. Notes, journal entries, goals and affirmations, and I still write the occasional letter to friends and family. There is a magic to writing things on paper that is undeniable. So, opting for paper products that come from sustainable sources is the best option. Learn more about the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and how you can make sure you purchase only sustainable paper products here.



Australia, junk mail sticker

Europe, junk mail sticker options for a few countries

What NOT to recycle (the list will surprise you!) – Earth911.com

Toilet paperĀ from recycled sources:

Sustainable Forestry Initiative