Eliminating the use of paper

When email became popular, there was a lot of speculation and promises that this would eliminate the vast amount of paper especially in work settings.  This hasn’t happened by any means.   I fixed things so I couldn’t use paper in connection with my computer.

When you buy a computer, many sales people (especially commission based) try convincing you that you need every gadget to go with it.  It’s so easy to believe you will need everything they try to sell you.

I have a desktop computer my son built from used parts for me.  He installed two hard-drives so I could use one as a back-up rather than purchasing an external modem.  He then gave me a scanner he also acquired used so I could scan any important documents I wanted to save. And yes, I do have a used set of speakers plugged in.

I have a thumb-drive I use for saving a few important things as a precaution, and to take a file with me.  For instance I don’t have a DVD burner on my computer, don’t really need it, but since I have my movies on my computer, now and then I put a movie on the thumb-drive to take to my son’s house for him to put on his laptop for the children.

That’s it.

Wait what about a printer?

Do we really need to have a printer?  I decided I didn’t need one.  By not having a printer, I can’t be lulled into the idea of printing something out.  Hence, I have no “printer paper” I need to have a place to store or to buy in the first place.  I haven’t had a printer for over ten years.  At first it was a pain and I found myself wanting to print something.  Today I don’t even think about it, it’s just not something that pops into my head.

For those times I do need to print something, I can use the library. This has happened only once in all these years, so yes we can live without a printer if we try.

This is just one way I reduced my dependency on paper.  Here are a few other ways I’ve reduced paper consumption:

  • use cloth napkins
  • use old sheets and other fabrics for rags rather than paper towels
  • stopped reading a printed version of the daily newspaper
  • stopped buying books and use the library
  • eliminated the need to pay bills by mail, using automated payment, or paying in person
  • Use rags, for washing up little ones rather than wipes which also contain soaps and chemicals
  • eliminated most mail including all junk mail, I currently receive less than 5 pieces of mail per month
  • Finally, the only paper product I do buy is toilet paper, the brand I purchase is made from 100% recycled paper and not bleached.

How have you reduced the amount of paper in your life?



  1. Those are great ideas to reduce paper. My 11-year-old son and I frequent the library often. We can request the books he wants in advance and have donated a lot of his old books and VHS tapes to the library for reuse or sale to keep the library funded.

    Where I live we get 3 ‘free newspapers’, which is ridiculous and wasteful. Last year I stared collecting (hoarding) all of the newspapers. When I feel the need to redo a portion of the garden these get used for my weed barrier. I need about 8-10 sheet layers but it keeps the newspapers out of my garbage and I don’t have to line my flowers with plastic or overpriced landscaping material.

    I use my son’s outgrown and mismatched socks for rags, they work perfect!


    • When I got rid of my books, what friends and family didn’t take either went to the thrift store or the library too.

      I used to live where we had free newspapers tossed at our door every week, you are right it is wasteful but at least you don’t toss yours. I have people save me newspapers when I need to start a new garden bed, like you I found it helps to kill the weeds.

      I used to darn my boys’ socks for as long as possible, then I used them to dust with, having my hand in the sock made dusting corners and such much easier than anything else. Unfortunately, they are grown now and I don’t get to collect their socks any more.


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