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10 small things you can do to save paper

Australians send 1.9 million tonnes of paper each year to landfill, most of which can be recycled...

Paper is one of the world's most versatile and widely used consumer materials, despite the rise of electronic communication methods. But did you know that to produce a single tonne of paper consumes approximately 20 full grown trees? A few small actions with enormous potential can quickly become a habit for a more sustainable, planet-friendly lifestyle.

According to the National Environment Bureau, each tonne of paper that is recycled saves almost 13 trees, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4100 kWh of electricity, 4 cubic metres of landfill and 31, 780 litres of water. So check out these ten ideas to lower your paper consumption and help save the planet's valuable resources!

1. Buy reusable napkins and kick the paper towel habit

The kitchen can be one of the most wasteful areas of the house with rubbish bins filling up with food waste, paper towels, napkins, and other disposable single-use items. Save money and avoid waste by buying reusable napkins – they're a little like handkerchiefs for your hands and face, not to mention they look trendy.

Paper towels are also an unnecessary item that adds to wastefulness and our 'throwaway culture'. Consider, instead, using cloth purchased from op shops to wipe up spills. Why not wrap your lunchbox with cloth and take it to work so you always have one handy?

Read more: Simple ways to achieve a zero waste kitchen

2. Donate your old magazines

There are many places that appreciate old magazines, particularly places with a reception or waiting room such as hospitals, dentist offices, or health clinics. Nursing homes and retirement communities and family shelters also might appreciate your magazines as elderly people are often physically limited and look for items to entertain themselves. Kindergartens also often seek old magazines for craft activities, as well as your local library. But be sure to call ahead before you donate anything as some places might not be needing them when you call.

3. Wrap gifts creatively

The rustic look is in! Try using old newspapers to wrap gifts and tie securely with some twine. Otherwise, cloth wrapped gifts – Furoshiki style – are a great option! Purchase cloth from your local op shop, or even buy a tea towel to wrap your gift for a double present!

Check out the below video on how to wrap gifts the Furoshiki way or even learn how to make wrapping paper that grows food!

4. Print on both sides of the paper

Halve your printed paper consumption by setting the default on your printing system to double sided. Scrap paper is also a great option to use when you're printing something unofficial, like university notes and readings.

Read more: 10 simple things you can do to green your workplace

5. Use a handkerchief instead of tissues

Using too many tissues blows. Keep your hanky handy and discover how often it comes in use! How about toilet paper? Learn about just how sustainable your toilet paper is!

6. Stop paper bank statements

Opt to have your bank statements email you. It's easy – either visit your bank's website or give them a quick call. Do you know how environmentally conscious your bank or superannuation fund is? Find out here with our guide to banks that don't support the fossil fuel industry.

7. Use an erasable board for note taking and reminders at home

Pick up a whiteboard or blackboard and keep it close! They're handy for saving paper and not necessarily just for school notes. Write to do lists, take down important information from phone calls, recipes… the list goes on. Better yet, make your own blackboard with scrap wood and some blackboard paint!

8. Say no to junk mail

More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to make junk mail, and 44% doesn't ever get opened! Saying no to junk mail is easier than you think and is a significant way you can keep paper from going to landfill.

Don't know how? Read our guide on how to stop junk mail.

9. Reuse notebooks until the end and save empty pages

Rather than throwing away empty notebooks at the end of a school year or university semester, tear out the unused pages – easiest with a spiral notebook – and place them in a three ringed binder to create a new notebook!

Read more: Our guide to being a planet friendly student

10. Donate newspaper to local pet shelter

Pet shelters are often desperate for supplies, including old newspapers that can be used for bedding as it doesn't hurt animals' paws. Don't read the newspaper? Animal shelters also appreciate old towels, blankets, and flat sheets.

Read more: 7 things you can donate to animal shelters

What you can do

Recycle Recycle Recycle... At home, school, or out

1,214 Tonnes of CO2
savings pledged
Take action

1 Million Women is more than our name, it's our goal! We're building a movement of strong, inspirational women acting on climate change by leading low-carbon lives. To make sure that our message has an impact, we need more women adding their voice. We need to be louder. Joining us online means your voice and actions can be counted. We need you.


Anthea Batsakis Guest Writer, Former Social Media Intern Suggest an article Send us an email

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