Defeating Our Throw Away Culture

From the BroadCAST

We throw away an incredible amount of paper and cardboard. Offices and schools are the most notorious culprits for wasting huge amounts of paper. While recycling is a great idea, we need to stop wasting paper and get away from the disposable mindset. Half of the waste that companies produce is paper waste. Paper and cardboard comprises 40 per cent of our household waste in NL. Here in the St. John’s area, we have a two-stream curbside recycling program where all paper goes in one blue bag and containers go in another for curbside pickup. Here are my best strategies to tackle paper waste:

  • Come up with some creative gift giving ideas that do not include gift wrap.
  • Insist on doing as much work as possible electronically. Most schools and workplaces have some sort of environmental policy — hold them to it. Teachers: let students submit work electronically. Businesses: allow receipts to be emailed. Make sure all printers have double-sided printing set as the default.
  • Don’t print, use technology. Need to sign a document? No need to print it. Use apps such as “Adobe Fill & Sign” to fill out applications, add your electronic signature, and then email your document.
  • Use digital document storage. Convert your documents to PDF and use an eFiling system to store your documentation on a cloud server, shared drive, or intranet.
  • Purchase products that have less packaging or leave the packaging with the retailer. Packaging makes up the greatest percentage of paper waste.

Environmental, social and economic responsibility is driving the need to reduce paper waste. It is expensive to manage paper waste — especially in remote Canadian areas; reducing consumption is a greener option in every sense of the word. We need policy and legislative changes to drive greater action, but until that happens, it is up to each of us to assume the responsibility for reducing paper and cardboard waste. If you have any paper reduction strategies of your own, please get in touch! I would love to hear from you.