Paper is touted as an inexpensive and renewable resource, but it isn’t the conveniently recyclable material it’s been made out to be. While paper recycling is far more successful than plastics and other materials, paper generation and usage is still hugely environmentally problematic.

Paper creation consumes a great deal of water, electricity and natural resources, and paper waste is a growing concern for environmentalists. For more sustainable alternatives, check out these ways to go paperless.

1. Centralized Work Data 

Rather than distribute tangible employee handbooks, schedules, reports or contact information, consider storing all important, relevant information in a single electronic database and providing access to all employees for reference and usage.

Electronically available materials can even assist your employees in reaching your business goals, and putting in the time to research digital meeting options and sales dashboard examples does double duty for office productivity and environmental impact.

2. Electronic Billing

Whether your phone bill or credit card statement, most companies and organizations now provide an option to receive important notifications and communications electronically via email, text or through a secure digital dashboard.

Ditching snail mail correspondence for electronic delivery not only makes accessing billing information straightforward and reliable, but it also saves a significant amount of paper by reducing the use of envelopes, too.

3. Digital Lists

Skip the notepads and sticky notes and opt for digital solutions for grocery or to-do lists. Most devices such as tablets or cell phones come equipped with a note-taking or to-do list app straight out of the box.

If standard, pre-loaded list apps don’t quite fit the bill, or you find that you and your family need a more intuitive and feature-filled option, there are dozens of digital list apps available, many of which can support multiple users and list categories.

4. Reusable Wares

Paper use extends beyond documents and letters. Paper towels, napkins and disposable cups or plates end up in landfills, where they cannot be recycled and are slow to decompose. Though they’re convenient, they’re not an environmentally-friendly solution in the kitchen. 

Whenever possible, choose reusable storage containers, plates, cups and napkins. Reusable alternatives may mean more dishes after mealtime, but each has a longer lifespan, which reduces overall non recyclable waste sent to landfills.

5. Email Receipts

Technological innovations have transformed commerce worldwide. As a result, fewer people are using paper money and accepting paper receipts at the conclusion of each transaction. If given the option, opt for an emailed or texted receipt. You can always unsubscribe from any accompanying email lists or newsletters later.

6. E-Readers

Digital books are excellent paper-free options that make it easier to read on-the-go, too. From reference books like cookbooks to fiction novels, consider taking your reading habits to your digital spaces.

However, reading on a phone or computer isn’t for everyone. Consider borrowing books, buying used and limiting your book purchases. Overall, it makes a big difference.

7. Reusable Bags

The hazards of single-use plastic bags are now well known, but paper bags aren’t an entirely guiltless solution either. Reusable bags, whether for groceries, school lunches or storage, reduce the number of plastic and paper bags in landfills.

8. Collaborative Documents

At home and in the workplace, collaboration is crucial to success. With digital collaborative calendars and documents, there is no need to print and pass around documents to be viewed or edited.

Just like other centralized data options, digital storage of important calendars and documents makes it easier to access and share amongst collaborators while doing some environmental good.

9. Portable Storage

School and work assignments alike don’t always require a printer. With USBs and external hard drives, presentations can be paperless. Additionally, they can be transported, shared, transferred and edited swiftly and securely.

10. Creative Reuse

Shred old documents for family art projects or sketch your home renovation ideas on the back of an old takeout menu. If you already have paper on hand, put it to use more than once. Just be sure to recycle or dispose of it properly when finished.

Even reusing paper has a positive impact. Anything that conserves paper consequently conserves the forests, water, soil and electricity involved in paper production. 

Author: Finnegan Pierson

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