Monday, October 13, 2008

Go Paperless Where You Can and Save Money

Green Saves Green 
Day 13

For many of us, one of our first steps in being green was recycling paper. It may not have even been a conscious green step. Our communities started a curbside recycling program and we participated. 

Paper comes from trees and our world needs trees to provide oxygen, clean the air, provide shade, keep topsoil from washing away, and a host of other really good things that trees do for our world and for us. So using less paper is definitely green, but how does it save money?

First of all, you've got to think beyond the paper that you use in your printer or to write letters on. Think about the other paper products you use in your home. Namely napkins, paper towels and plates.

Get rid of the paper napkins and get cloth napkins*. Cloth napkins don't need to be expensive. The majority of mine came from Ikea, and if I recall correctly they were $1.99 for a four pack. They aren't all cotton or organic, but they've lasted me for two years and so no sign of wearing out so I think they're a better option than the paper napkins. And not buying paper napkins every two weeks saves me money.

Not using paper towels saves me even more money. We use rags to clean up our messes. You don't even have to buy rags. You've got something around the house that can become a rag. Old t-shirts you never wear. Dishtowels that are no longer attractive enough to hang over the stove handle. I haven't bought a single roll of paper towels in about a year and a half. 

Paper plates are another costly habit. You most likely have regular, durable plates. It's not that difficult to use them or wash them. 

Over at Crunchy Chicken, she had a challenge ditch toilet paper and go with washable wipes/rags, but honestly, I'm not there yet. But it is an option. I do, however, buy toilet paper made from recycled materials (which I have to remind my boys often is not the same as recycled toilet paper!)

On the actual paper side of going paperless, opting for your banks and credit cards to e-mail you paperless statements and bills will help save paper and paying those bills online saves you money by saving the cost of a stamp. I can't keep up with the rising price of stamps these days.

*Note about cloth napkins: A lot of my friends ask about the difficulty of using cloth napkins - washing them, ironing them, getting out the stains. Honestly, I don't care about ironing or getting out stains. I have all white napkins, wash them each time I do a white load and hang them out to dry. If they are stained, oh well, we're only using them to wipe our mouths and hands. Wrinkles - who cares?

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Allison said...

I love this post and will reiterate it myself next week.
I was wondering, do you think going paperless with books, whether on a reader or IPod, is good or bad for the environment? No more paper but one uses electicity or batteries for that. It is kinda like paper or plastic, which one is better? But we just say neither, buy a tote. But you can't do that with books.
What is your take?

Robin Shreeves said...

Well, books are my kryptonite, so I'm not sure I can be completely objective on this. I would think that electronic reading is probably less environmentally harmful, especially if you have rechargeable batteries in whatever reader you use. But, I simply cannot enjoy listening to a book on my iPod or reading fiction from a screen. I need a physical book that I can flip pages in, and often write notes in the margins in.

I try to buy used when possible (big used book sale at my library that starts this Thursday - I'm hankering for a whole stack of new cookbooks!), but like you, sometimes I buy books new when I can't get them used.

But, I have dramatically decreased the amount of new books I buy, and I purposely stay away from the sale racks when I go into Barnes and Noble so I don't find something that I just have to have that I didn't even know existed till I saw it.