Paper used to be one of the most difficult things for me to remember to recycle. My main excuse was that doing so was too time consuming and had very little payoff. After all, it's not as though a new little tree would sprout in my yard for every 5 pounds of paper I recycled. Now I live in an area where recycling is mandatory. After so many years of throwing every shred of paper into the round file, using that big blue bin seemed a bit daunting at first. Now that I've gotten the hang of it, I'm seeing new ways (or perhaps just remembering the old ones) to make careful use of paper products. Here are just a few things that I do to save paper and, I hope, save a tree or two in the process.
1. Reuse the back of envelopes to write the grocery list. The envelope serves double-duty as a place to keep my coupons.
2. Subscribe to the weekend or Sunday only newspaper. Unless you're a total news hound, chances are you only read a few sections of the paper. GreenValley.com estimates that Americans destroy the equivalent of 30 million trees each year in newsprint. The same site also mentions that recycling the newspaper can potentially reduce the need for tropical lumber.
3. Go easy on the TP. I admit, I have a lot of trouble with this one. Although I can't quite bring myself to purchase 1-ply toilet paper, I do my best not to over estimate how much I'm going to need for a particular "event." As it was put so simply in a Seinfeld episode, "Spare a square."
4. Run printer paper through twice. I do this a lot, especially if I'm using my printer to print drafts of articles I write. I try to print front and back pages, or at least get 2-4 pages per sheet (if it's readable.)
5. Into scrap-booking or paper crafts? Resist the urge to buy hundreds of little pages of paper or card stock. I do what I call "cannibalizing" greeting cards. If something has a cute pattern or lettering on it, I cut it off and add it to my collection.
6. Buy magazines only as you're interested in them. I used to have multiple magazine subscriptions at once, and I'd generally only read the cover article and a few of my favorite sections. Now I only buy what I'm interested in-a single issue of Reader's Digest or Cooking Light, and I recycle it when I'm finished.
The overall best way to save paper and ultimately trees is to put into practice the environmentally friendly mantra of "Reduce. Reuse. Recycle." It takes a little while to get used to it, but eventually the habit will take hold. Just like anything else worth doing, it's worth doing it right.