Back when I was in college (in 2008) there was a growing trend of environmental responsibility. Plastic water bottles were being banned, composting was cool, cloth grocery bags were available at every major store, and there was a surge of products marketed as eco-friendly. As Christians, we should be concerned about how we leave the Earth for future generations. After all,
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein (Psalm 24:1).
According to statistics, paper in the U.S. represents one of the biggest components of solid waste in landfills at a whopping 26 million tons, or 16% of landfill solid waste (source). How often do we really think about where our paper is going when we toss it in the trash? I can honestly say that I do not throw out paper but recycle it instead. Still, there is so much being used that it can be cause for concern. Typically, reducing paper usage is something done by corporate offices or businesses, but there are ways that we as homemakers can cut back too.
But why should we care about going paperless at home? It’s not as if we are buying reams of paper, and if we stop throwing it away we can save the planet, right? That just sounds silly, but there are many good reasons to go paperless! Not only are we keeping unnecessary waste out of landfills, we are also reducing spending.
Cancel the Subscriptions
One easy way to go paperless is to cancel newspaper subscriptions. I know, I know…newspapers may be old fashioned and you might not even read them, but I am sure there are SOME readers here who still get a daily paper! The previous owners of our home signed up for a free subscription and never canceled when they moved, so we had to deal with unwanted newspapers for a while. Nowadays, the news can be readily found on the internet, and it is just as reliable as the newspapers. Don’t rely on Facebook or other social medias though, be sure to look for a reputable publication if you want accurate information. I like the online versions of the newspaper because it is updated frequently in the event of breaking news. Local online papers also cover smaller stories that may not have made it into the print version, and I like reading about things that happen in my community.
If you worry about not getting your weekly grocery flyers in the newspaper, I have a solution for that too. Instead of relying on printed flyers for price matching or couponing, look at the store website to find their electronic version. All the grocery stores around here, even the family run stores, have their weekly flyer uploaded as a PDF. In many cases, stores that offer price matching will accept a price shown in the flyer even if that flyer is on your smartphone. In our modern technology age, it is quite easy to access all the sale info we need online, making mailed flyers almost useless.
Sign Up for Electronic Billing
My second tip for going paperless is to sign up for electronic bills. I know, using the internet for bill payments can seem sketchy and unsafe, but I am suggesting you simply review the bill online, and pay it as you normally would. For example, each month I get a text message from my cell phone provider alerting me to my bill. This was a free service, and it actually saves me a few dollars a month, since they charge for sending a paper bill. At first, I was wary of getting an electronic bill because I like to keep my past bills for reference. But when I signed into my online account, I could see all my bills there, starting with my very first one. I like knowing that the previous bills are still available, but I do not need to keep them as clutter in my home. You can sign up to receive e-bills from almost every type of company! We access our accounts for electricity, phones, even our mortgage and insurance, online! Since we are using trusted service providers, I am confident that our information is secure. I still pay my bills the usual way, through my bank, but now I have far less paper to deal with.
Use Technology for Your Benefit
Are you a fan of list making? I sure am! I make grocery lists, daily to do lists, errand lists, and more. Having a list makes me feel more focused and I like the feeling of checking something off as I complete it. But my problem is that I often misplace my lists…I usually grab any scrap of paper I can find and end up losing it by the end of the day. One way to combat this problem is to keep an electronic list instead. Most of us have smartphones, but even the older models have the memo feature. Keeping a list on your phone is handy because you know where it is, you can access it quickly, and it is easily deleted once you are finished with it. If cell phones are not your style, a simple word processing program on your computer will also do the trick! And if you find yourself a bit technology challenged, how about considering a dry erase board or a chalk board? They can be found at dollar stores, office supply stores, or department stores. They are easy to use and having them displayed makes it easier for family to see the lists, if you desire.
Going paperless does not require an upheaval of your routine nor does it really take much effort. But it can help make us better stewards of the environment by not contributing to landfill waste. As a bonus, it can help us save money since we don’t need to purchase consumables as much.