Reducing Paper Trash

Our family has been tackling the plastic reducing with much frustration. Plastic is everywhere and in so many unnecessary places. Some stores that brag about their fresh and organic foods tend to have more plastic than others. Very frustrating!

At least with paper, I have actions in MY OWN control for reducing our use. Reducing paper use may not seem like it would make a huge impact, but consider this:

When 40% of the world’s industrial logging goes to paper, (and that percentage is rising) you have to take a deeper look. Producing paper is the third most energy-intensive of all manufacturing industries and the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The production uses chemicals and toxins that can cause major and persistent health issues. It uses up natural resources and ruins animal habitats. (save the animals!) Paper plantations aren’t offering any wildlife habitats at all with their perfect rows of pesticide ridden trees. It’s so sad.

Time to rethink your daily paper use. Is ease of use really worth the price we are ultimately paying?

I highly suggest doing another trash audit on your household (and also at work!) just to get a good picture of what you are using daily. Paper products include plates, napkins, towels, tissues, notepads, writing/printing paper, mail, receipts, anything that comes in boxes at the store, etc, etc, etc. It can be overwhelming.

The best ways to reduce your paper:

  • cloth napkins
  • cloth towel wipes for the countertops
  • use an e-reader, phone app or whiteboard for reading, list making and notes
  • handkerchiefs
  • washable pads/liners or diva cups
  • change bill paying to entirely online
  • cloth diapers
  • washable coffee filters
  • request an e-receipt
  • washable dishware – and to go
  • use 100% recycled paper/toilet paper
  • if you must print something, use both sides

Recycling is excellent, but it is not the ultimate answer. REDUCE and REUSE FIRST!

If we all try to use less, we can reduce the impact we have on our forests, cut down on energy use and toxic emissions, lessen pollution and ultimately produce less waste – and let’s not forget the human rights abuses that go hand in hand with this industry.

I’m no tree hugger (well, maybe I am) and I am definitely not much of an activist leader, but I do know when things need to change and right now, we ALL need to make some changes. If it all seems like too much, just start with one idea and see where it takes you.

Today, my family started using cloth napkins for everyday meals. I purchased a pile of old, unmatching linens at an antique store for a tiny cost just for this purpose (reuse and repurpose!) They were all a bit confused about the funny old napkins with cross stitching, lace and scalloped edges, but hopped right onboard my crazy train because they know that what I am doing at our dinner table is good for our world and their future.

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