It has been estimated that the average American uses at least 700 pounds of paper each year, which is the highest usage per capita in the world. Paper products are a big business, and the rising consumption of paper is starting to have noticeable environmental effects.
The purpose of this article is to encourage more awareness about your paper usage and suggest a few ways to reduce your household paper consumption for the sake of the planet.
How Paper Is Made
Pulpwood logs, byproducts from the sawmilling process, and recycled paper products make up much of the paper we use today. Paper comes from various types of trees, including pine, fir, spruce, and aspen. The less desirable parts of trees that cannot be used for construction are often used for pulp to make paper. The pulp is mixed with water and put onto a machine to make it flat, dry, and cut into sheets.
Paper’s Effect on the Environment
Around the world, paper is commonly used for packaging, wrapping, printing, writing, newspapers, and sanitary purposes. Paper production emits carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide into the air, which contributes to pollution. This process also creates water pollution and can contaminate rivers and lakes due to the wastewater. Despite an increase in recycling programs, so much paper still ends up in landfills today.
How to Conserve Paper Resources
If you are interested in doing your part to reduce paper waste, here are a few simple and practical ideas to try at home.
Buy Recycled Paper
When you really need paper in your life, choose recycled paper because its production creates fewer greenhouse gases and requires less energy to produce. Know what the recycling rules are in your area and recycle used paper as much as you can.
Choose Reusable Towels
Paper towels are convenient, but they contribute to a large portion of paper usage in the average household. Once used, paper towels go into the trash and aren’t recyclable. Alternatively, use cloth washcloths and rags, and then put them in the laundry instead of overusing disposable paper towels.
Digitize Your Files
Not only will reducing the number of paper files you keep help the environment, but it will also save space in your house and keep your life more organized. It is also easier to protect your documents from fires, floods, and theft when they are digitized rather than in paper form.
Reuse Paper as Much as Possible
Do you really need to buy a new stack of Post-It notes to write down to-do lists, or could you make use of scrap paper already lying around your house? Could you print something on both sides of the paper instead of using two sheets? Pieces of junk mail that you receive can also be used as scrap paper for an economical and eco-friendly option.
Sign up for Online Newspapers and Magazines
Modern times call for modern ways to read your favorite newspapers and magazines. You can save paper and money by signing up for online editions of your favorite publications to read. Online versions are also more portable and convenient for reading on-the-go.
Buy in Bulk and Try Reusable Containers
Foods from the supermarket often have a lot of excess packaging that contribute to paper waste in a household. One idea is to buy items in bulk and then utilize your own reusable, washable containers to cut down on your personal paper consumption.
You can find more tips and advice about living an eco-friendlier life on the Seagate blog.