Reduce paper use in and around your home with these simple tips!

Throughout August in my Self Sufficiency in the Suburbs membership we shone the light on paper product usage, and we all made an effort to reduce our consumption of paper products in the home. For some, this meant rediscovering handkerchiefs and choosing them over tissues, others looked for more eco-friendly ways to entertain than using paper plates and cups. Like we do in every monthly eco challenge, we all tried to make at least one small change to reduce our use of paper products.

Since there’s so many opportunities to reduce paper in and around the home, I thought it would be great to summarize them for easy reference.

In this post I share 13 simple ways to reduce paper use in and around the home.

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The Environmental Impact of Paper Use

Why Reduce Paper Use?

Whether it’s the deforestation and loss of habitat caused by logging trees for paper, the water and energy used to transform wood into pulp and paper or the chemicals used to bleach and colour the paper, the production and use of paper products has a significant impact on the environment.

Here’s a few stats to put the paper industry into perspective

  • Pulp and paper are the third largest industrial polluter to air, water, and land in both Canada and the United States, and release well over 100 million kg of toxic pollution each year.
  • Worldwide, the pulp and paper industry is the fifth largest consumer of energy, accounting for four percent of all the world’s energy use. The pulp and paper industry uses more water to produce a ton of product than any other industry.
  • About 90% of paper comes from trees, the majority of which are not sustainably harvested (source).
  • According to the Pulp & Paper Industry Strategy group, Australians consume around four million tonnes of paper and paperboard each year — an amount equal to nearly 200 kg per person. It is estimated that between 10 and 17 trees are needed to produce 1 tonne of paper – and this is only enough for around 7,000 copies of a national newspaper!
  • World paper consumption reached 366 million tonnes in 2005 and is rising steadily at an annual rate of 3.6 per cent. The US and European Union consume the most paper per capita. However, global consumption growth is primarily due to solid demand from China and India.
  • Traditionally, paper is made white by toxic chlorine bleaching that has a negative impact on rivers, lakes, oceans and our health. According to Greenpeace, organochlorines from pulp mills have been found in water, sediment and food chain as far as 1400 kilometres from their source (source).

How To Reduce Paper Use in the Home

Reduce Paper Use In Personal Care

  • Use a handkerchief rather than tissues.
  • Choose a menstrual cup over tampons, or cloth pads or period-proof underwear over disposable sanitary pads. Click HERE to learn more about sustainable period options.
  • Cloth nappies rather than single-use nappies and reusable wipes rather than wet wipes. Water and a cloth are all you need to clean your baby’s bum. No chemicals required!

Reduce Paper Use In the Kitchen

  • Buy bulk foods in reusable containers instead of packaged foods.
  • Use cloth serviettes instead of paper napkins.
  • When entertaining use reusable cups and plates rather than single-use paper (or plastic) varieties

Reduce General Paper Consumption

  • If you don’t have to print, don’t. Be green and read it on the screen!
  • Cancel newspaper magazine subscription and read online or borrow them from your local library. You can even cancel your yellow and white pages delivery.
  • Use reusable gift bags instead of wrapping paper for gifts.
  • Change bills and bank statements to paperless and pay them online.
  • Reduce junk mail by placing a “no advertising materials’ sign on your letterbox and unsubscribing from mailing lists that post you physical catalogues.
  • Use the backside of a piece of paper for notes and shopping lists, rather than buying purpose-made stationary for meal plans and To Do lists.
  • Love reading? Devour your favourite reads on an e-reader such as a Kindle, rather than traditional books. Click here to see how e-readers V books stack up sustainably.

Reducing paper use in and around the home is just one step you can take to minimise your eco footprint and improve the health of our planet.

Over to You!

Have you taken steps to reduce paper use in your home? Share your best tips to reduce paper use below!

Like this episode? You may also like…

Ep102 – Five Simple Ways To Declutter Your House

Ep108 – Are E-Readers More Sustainable Than Books?

Ep120 – 3 Reasons To Rethink Supermarket Collectables

Ep121 – Period Underwear: A Greener Alternative to Pads and Tampons