Paper Reduction and Reuse

Boxboard, cardboard, magazines, office paper, tissue paper, newspaper, gift wrap... Paper is everywhere. While we have not achieved the paperless offices/homes predicted in the early '70s, there are many things we can do to get us closer to the zero paper waste goal.

Of course the first and best step is reduction (it's not the first R for nothing!). Use electronic options to reduce paper—email, electronic banking, electronic tax filing, etc. Subscribe to electronic, rather than paper, clipping services. Of course these options don't reduce paper if you automatically make a hard copy of every transaction—print only those items you will use again or that require a paper record.

Reducing junk mail will also cut down on paper. Put up a 'no flyers' sign on your mailbox if you get home delivery. If you have a box, let your postmaster know you don't want unaddressed mail. Contact the Canadian Marketing Association ( or 1 Concorde Gate, Suite 607, Don Mills, ON M3C 3N6) to add your name to those who don't want junk mail.

Paper reuse opportunities abound. If we can think about paper with one side clean as a resource rather than as something to be recycled, we can make less paper do more work for us. Used paper can be put in fax machines, in printers for draft copies, and in photocopiers for internal copies. Used paper also makes great notepads and scrap paper. You can reuse large envelopes by covering the original address with a new label. And of course boxes can be reused for all sorts of functions. Substitute durable items like cloth towels and hankies for paper towels and facial tissue.

Dedicated paper reducers can achieve significant results with these methods. Once reduction and reuse have been max-ed out, then you can go for the third—best option—recycle!

[Source: June 2001 WasteWatch ]