Tips for Reducing Paper Usage in College

Guest Post by Summer Sherrod  

These tips can be applied to all of your classes, in your work place, at home, and throughout your life – college is merely a starting point for this venture. Feel free to read just the bolded items or check out the detailed lists for examples and extra tips.

 Do not ask the question, “Why are they making us use so much paper?” Instead ask, “What can I  do to reduce my paper consumption here?”

The driving forces are to reduce in the first place and to reuse what you’ve already used. Huge bonus – saving paper will also save you money in the long run!

1. Don’t print unless you have to

  • If your teacher posts a reading online, read it online (if the screen hurts your eyes, read it in small chunks or put it on an e-­‐reader)
  • Print only the final drafts of essays, especially long ones
  • If you find a typo in a printed essay or something like that, only reprint the page that you edit – the others are still perfectly usable
  • If someone else offers to print you something, such as a webpage or document, ask them to email you a link or copy instead

2. If you must print, do it conservatively (will also save you money at the print station!)

  • Print readings so that two pages fit on one sheet
  • Print everything single-­spaced that can be
  • Copy articles into a word processor so that you can cut out unnecessary material and print only the information you actually need in a format that accommodates it
  • Print slideshows so that three or six slides fit on one sheet
  • Print double-­sided

3. Don’t use virgin paper as scratch paper

  • Use the backs of old notes, documents, readings, e as scratch paper
  • Use the backs of receipts for grocery lists
  • Use torn or cut pieces of old paper with thumbtacks, sticky-­tack or small pieces of tape instead of sticky-­notes
  • If you don’t have any paper you can reuse, check the print station on campus (like in the library) – there’s always plenty of paper there that people print and waste, it’s perfect for scratch paper

4. Sign up for paperless bills and bank reports

  • Most companies will do this because emails are cheaper than postage

5. Use electronic storage for documents, receipts, contacts, etc.

  • Make sure you keep back­‐ups! An easy way to do this is simply email it to yourself and have folders for Receipts, Essays, etc.

6. Opt out of junk mail

  • Many tutorials online can walk you through how to do this. Simply search “how to stop junk mail”

7. Subscribe to digital magazines rather than paper

  • When you cannot, be sure to recycle them when you’re through

8. When your paper is no longer reusable, ALWAYS recycle

  • A small piece of paper is just a recyclable as a full sheet
  • Drop it in a paper recycle bin or recycle it yourself into homemade paper or other products

9. When you cannot avoid buying paper, look for some that has been made with recycled materials

  • Nowadays, this is easily found at Staples or other office supply stores
  • This is especially important with toilet paper – since you have to buy toilet paper new, be sure to get some that is made from recycled material

10. Use cloth napkins and reusable plates (saves you money in the kitchen)

  • Reusable napkins can get expensive but don’t have to be – you only need one or two for yourself anyways. Make your own by cutting up old t-­‐shirts. Leave them as-­‐is or personalize.
  • Thrift stores are AWESOME for plates, bowls, cups, mugs, etc. – they’re cheap, reusable, and you get bonus sustainability points for buying second hand

11. Use a handkerchief instead of a Kleenex (saves you money on tissues)

  • Most people have a bandana or two laying around from some old costume or event – these are perfect
  • If you don’t have one laying around, they can be found for less than a dollar at some stores

12. Buy food in bulk in reusable containers rather than cardboard boxes (saves you money on food!)

  • Dry pasta is usually available in the bulk section and it really does save you money to buy in bulk

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want more information about this:

sdsherro@uark.edu

There are many, many other ways to reduce paper consumption! I love talking about sustainability efforts so if you need to know how to do something, or want to know how I manage my sustainable practices, or just want to talk about sustainability issues, feel free to email me at the address above. Sustainability starts with us! Let’s make it happen!

Summer Sherrod
President, Student Sustainability Council
University of Arkansas
28 January 2015

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