Taking Steps Down the Paperless Trail

Do you recycle paper at home? If not, maybe you should start. Paper waste continues to overload our resources and ends up in landfills all over the country.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans use about 71 million tons of paper and paperboard, based on 2010 figures. Most of this is coming from the paper publishing industry, which produces more than 2 billion books, 350 million magazines and 24 billion newspapers annually, according to EPA estimates. And, according to Reduce.org, Americans discard 10,000 or more sheets of paper a year — that’s enough to build a 12-foot-high wall stretching from New York to San Francisco — that’s nearly 10,000 sheets per person!

While the increasing use of laptops, tablets and smart phones will continue to diminish the need for many uses of paper and cardboard products, a demand for paper products still exists. Think about it: How many of us regularly use paper towels, tissue and toilet paper, copy paper, paper cups, plates, bowls and more?

So what can we do? Recycling is the simple answer. Americans can achieve a better level of sustainability by becoming more eco-friendly at home and work. Recycle paper in your house at your local green recycling bin. Work with your kids to get them to understand how paper waste affects our environment. And teach them to learn recycling methods for all of our consumption patterns, not just paper products. Throw used plastic, metal cans and glass bottles into a separate box on the porch to drop them off at a glass recycling facility on weekends.

Eliminate Unwanted Mail

Most of us get too much unwanted advertising mail at home a year, with some estimating about 500 pieces a year. To take your name and address off national marketing lists, reach out to and register with the Direct Marketing Association’s mail preference service. You can also remove yourself from credit or insurance offers by using OptOutPrescreen.comRecycled Paper. For individual shopping catalogs, send emails to them asking to remove your name. It may take a month or two, but eventually you’ll stop receiving excess catalogs in your inbox.

Paperless Billing

Choosing to be eco-friendly and going paperless with your home bills can have a measurable impact on the amount of paper used in your lifetime. Here’s a tip: Set up online accounts for credit card and utility companies, and reduce the flow of monthly bills that arrive every month. You can also set up online accounts at Kemper.com and other insurance providers, but if you take a moment and think about every bill you pay on a monthly basis, you may be surprised with exactly how much mail you can eliminate.  It may surprise you how many bills can be paid electronically.

Eco-Friendly Consumption

Instead of buying regular paper, use already recycled paper and help eliminate new waste in the environment. If possible, buy 100 percent post-consumer-waste recycled paper. There are good reasons for buying already recycled paper. Experts suggest that every 20 cases of recycled paper can save 17 trees, 390 gallons of oil, 7000 gallons of water and 4100 kwh of energy. Using recycled paper also saves extra cubic feet of landfill space.

Using our high-speed Internet connection, the sky’s the limit in our ability to rid ourselves of papers, folders and weighty policies cluttering up our environment.

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