It is amazing how much paper our digital society uses. Paper recycling bins not only save trees but also water, oil and energy not to mention saving room in the landfills. However as with all resources, reduction and reuse are better than recycling. Here are a few ways you can use less paper.
1) Electronic Documents
Don't write it down if you can avoid it. Use email instead of regular mail. Send a PDF instead of a printed document. Write a note or shopping list in your phone instead of on a piece of paper.
E-readers and tablets are pretty cheap, but don't stop with books. Many magazines and newspapers are available as electronic editions, sometimes at a discount over printed versions. If you can get the publishers to use less paper then it's as good as cutting your own use.
3) Don't Print It
When you receive an electronic document, printing it defeats the purpose of electronic submission. Read it on your computer. For many document formats you can edit or comment right there on the screen instead of printing it out for handwritten notes. You will not only use less paper but also less printer toner.
4) Use Both Sides
Of course sometimes we have to print, so be sure to use both sides of the paper. Buy a duplexer attachment for your printer to do it automatically. Single-sheet feed the reverse sides of old documents when printing new ones.
5) Scratch Paper - When a printed page still has a lot of space on it, use it to take notes instead of wasting a fresh sheet of paper. Keep a stack of printed sheets next to your phone and use them to take notes during conversations. Use every square inch of both sides of a sheet before putting it in the recycle bin.
6) Compost It
Compost needs a certain ratio of brown material to green material, and paper makes a great brown material. Not all of us have access to straw, leaves or sawdust but most of us have access to lots of paper. If you don't have enough at home, you can always raid the paper recycling bins at work.
7) Shred Less
Shredded paper is a problem. Most programs don't allow shredded paper in paper recycling bins because it's difficult to recycle. Minimize what you generate by shredding only what you need to. Tear off personal information like your credit card number or name and address for shredding, and put the rest into paper recycling bins. The shredded paper is great for compost or packing material. OK, this isn't technically a "use less paper" tip but it's a good one nonetheless.
Recycling is only one of the three Rs -- reduction and reuse are important as well. If you use less paper and throw what you do generate into paper recycling bins, you can have a big impact on the environment.