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WNY GOING GREEN: CUTTING PAPER USE

Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 4:25 PM / Blue & Gold Make Green
By Michael Jafari  - Graduate Assistant (2010)
There are ways to make our environment “greener” just by making smarter decisions in our own homes.  One of the easiest ways to help the environment is by preserving the use of all paper products.

Claudia Thompson states in her book, Recycled Papers: The Essential Guide that an average of 24 trees produce one ton of paper.  If our community can make better decisions on our paper usage, we can decrease the amount of trees that are cut down to produce these products.

You can limit your paper use by changing the way you shop at the grocery store.  For instance, you can purchase “tree-free” 100% recycled paper products such as greeting cards, paper towels and toilet paper.   An even better way to reduce home paper waste is to stop buying disposable cups, plates, utensils and napkins.   Returning to the use of traditional, reusable dinnerware and cloth napkins will also save paper and money.

Another way that you can live greener at the grocery store is to use cloth bags to carry your items home.  Grocery stores used to give you only two options: paper or plastic.  Now, however, most stores offer cloth bags that customers can keep and use over and over in an effort to go green.  According to National Geographic, between 500 billion and a trillion plastic grocery bags are used globally each year, taking a toll on the earth’s health.  It is a problem that can be remedied if more consumers make a conscious effort to bring their own reusable bags when shopping.

You can also conserve paper by paying your bills electronically.  Most service companies offer an option to “go paperless” by posting your statements and other information online and emailing it to you.  From bank and credit card statements to utility and cable bills, it can all be accessed through the internet.  Not only does this save paper, but it also saves gas and postage for mailing bills.  To start taking advantage of this easier and greener method, you can just go to the Web sites of each of your service providers and choose the option to receive your statement and pay bills online.

Another way you can preserve paper is by removing yourself from junk mail lists.  According to Native Forest Network, each person will receive almost 560 pieces of junk mail in one year alone.  The study suggests that 44% of junk mail is unopened and unread, which leads to the paper being thrown out in the trash and ending up in landfills.

To limit the amount of junk mail sent to your home, you can contact the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service.  You can get in touch with them by downloading the online form off of their Web site: https://www.dmachoice.org/dma/member/home.action.

Many colleges and universities are attempting to reduce the use of paper when giving homework assignments to their students.  College professors are now asking students to email papers and projects rather than turning in printed copies of the assignments.  Students work on computer programs like Microsoft Word, Excel, or other programs and save their assignments onto jump drives or floppy disks to eliminate the need for printing out work as well.   Many students are able to take online courses from home, totally eliminating the need for any printed work as everything is submitted electronically.  High Schools are jumping on the bandwagon by giving students the option to do homework assignments online to prepare them for college.   

Although the use of paper has typically been a part of every day life for many people, the ways to decrease the use of it are always increasing.

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