Paper makes up more than a quarter of all municipal solid waste produced in the United States. Reducing paper waste is therefore and important part of reducing overall solid waste. One way to reduce paper waste is to recycle 100% of paper that you use in your home or business.
Another means to reducing paper waste is to avoid using it in the first place. This approach has the added benefit of reducing consumption of other raw materials such as wood pulp, water and fuel, and reduces the amount of carbon emissions from paper manufacturing and transport, as well as from printing and transport of end-user materials.
In the City of Fort Lauderdale we have undertaken numerous efforts to reduce our paper consumption, including for example:
- Offering digital versions of key information, such as the Water Quality Report.
- Converting to online applications for employment.
- Utilizing digital media for communication with neighbors, as opposed to bill inserts.
You can take two important steps right away to reduce the amount of paper circulating in our city. First, sign up for paper-free utility billing through our Save-a-Tree, Plant-a-Tree program. Second, reduce the amount of unsolicited mail that you receive.
Tips for Reducing Your Paper Usage in the Home Environment
- Manage your bills, banking, insurance and other financial statements online. You can sign up for e-billing with us, and with almost all vendors, banks, brokerages and insurance companies. You will have speedier access to your information, more information at your fingertips, and you will eliminate a lot of the paper that hits your mailbox and clutters your desk and file cabinets
- Carry your own bags to the market and other stores. Many of us remember to bring the bags to the supermarket, but most paper shopping bags are used in other types of stores. Invest in a few collapsible bags that fit easily into your purse or pocket. They'll be convenient to carry around the mall, and available when you need them.
- Go digital for your news. The paper for newspapers and magazines can be eliminated entirely if you read them on your computer or e-reader. Most publishers provide extra content as a bonus for going online.
- Cancel those phone books. Use the National Yellow Pages Consumer Choice Opt Out website to cancel future delivery of your yellow pages, white pages and other phone books if you no longer use them. You can access the same information online or through apps offered from these publishing companies.
- Re-use gift wrap and bags.
- Save unused paper at the end of the school year. Go through your child's backpack in June. Tear out used pages from notebooks. Store away unused writing, drawing, construction, and graph paper, as well as clean paper folders. It will cut your shopping bill in August. If the school requires new notebooks, at least you will have a lot of good scrap paper at home!
Tips for Reducing Your Paper Usage in the Business Environment
- Offer e-billing if you do not already.
- Publish consumer information in a digital format. Offer printed materials by request only.
- Implement an enterprise wide management system to reduce paper used for back-office transactions.
- Reduce the amount of paper packaging materials you use for your product.
- Track your success with printed advertising. Eliminate ads and flyers that do not bring a good enough return.
- Examine general policies to look for opportunity to reduce paper use.
- Use information technology to make reduced paper usage automatic, such as setting printers to default to double-sided printing and narrower margins.
- When you must use paper, select one that has recycled content.
- Place recycling bins in convenient locations throughout your offices.