quest for less paper

The other day, without really thinking, I tore something like… three paper towels off the roll to wipe up something on the counter.

Really? Yes, really.

I’m not really sure when it happened, but my consumption of paper has gotten a little out of control.

And paper is really a no-brainer, for the lazy (er… “armchair”)-environmentalist. It’s easier to deal with than plastic. So why not start here? Work our way up to the hard stuff.

Here’s my list. The big culprits. The paper I consume. How I want to change things.

  1. paper towels – Invest in a few more cloth kitchen towels (pre-owned, goodwill) and make nice with our sponges.
  2. napkins – Replace with a handful of cloth napkins (also pre-owned).
  3. coffee filters – Replace with mesh or a couple of cloth filters.
  4. receipts – ?
  5. toilet paper – Use less? Being paperless in this area is not practical for me at this time.
  6. cardboard packaging – Buy less of it to begin with.

The receipts I find most difficult. I work retail. When someone doesn’t want their receipt, it gets tossed in the trash bin, or I use it as note paper. Most places do not have the option to not print the receipt. I just want to make sure you’re aware of that. You don’t need to be rude to the cashier about it. I totally don’t care how “green” you are trying to be. Be nice to people, especially the people who do the menial jobs you are privileged enough not to be doing. Because guess what. Whether you like it or not, people are part of the environment.

To the point, though, angry-face over, what can I do with the receipts?

Here’s what I already do. Suggestions. Thoughts. Mull it over.

  1. When cleaning and dusting the mirrors, windows, and counter-tops at work, I use rags (donated by you, maybe, thanks!). I have suggested to my co-workers to do the same. Obviously I should be doing this at home.
  2. I’ve gone with the paperless option for the majority of my bills.
  3. I reuse mailing materials (correctly and safely!).
  4. I am constantly using scrap notepaper. I also use a lot of otherwise-trashy paper bits in some of my mixed media pieces and in my journals.
  5. I use reusable lady products, and could not recommend it enough.
In all of this, I recognize the importance of refusing over the other “three R’s” (remember those!?). And, by refusing, we are totally stickin’ it to American consumerism, which I am all about.

There are some things I won’t make sacrifices on. Books, journals, writing letters (by hand, on stationery). There’s this weird controversy going around about books and being green. Um. I don’t know. I don’t get it, either. Literacy is power and it’s good for you. Read. Solutions? Libraries. Book swaps. Buying pre-owned. Sharing with friends. Sounds ok to me.  I’m too worried about breaking an e-reader. I’m also broke.

So, talk to me. Help a girl out. I want to pick your brains.

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4 thoughts on “quest for less paper

  1. Sabin July 25, 2011 at 9:38 pm Reply

    Them are good ideas, sis.

    Here’s what I’ve been trying to do (different households = different situations, of course).

    Dusting: use micro-fiber cloth. They it lasts a long time and can often be found made out of recycled plastic.

    Paper towels: I’ve been buying all of my paper from companies like 7th Generation or similar who produce the products from post-consumer recycled. Sometimes recycled paper towels can be better than laundering the towels (depending on how much mess)

    Bills: Electronic is great.

    Coffee: French Press is a good way to go, too. No filters at all!

    • Naomi July 27, 2011 at 12:31 pm Reply

      I do actually have a mini french press I could dig out. I just got so used to the routine of an auto-drip that I hadn’t even thought about it!

  2. Kevin C July 30, 2011 at 10:28 am Reply

    I’ve actually suggested repeatedly to my grocery store company that they should allow for receipt refusal. Just press a button on the touchscreen where there’s this stupid slot machine game for “no receipt”.

    They refuse because they feel every customer should have a receipt. And also advertising on the back(which isn’t always there).

    • Naomi July 30, 2011 at 4:16 pm Reply

      Goodwill doesn’t even have an electronic pinpad. We’re still using paper signatures. Uuugh.

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