We’ve all seen the requests at the bottom of emails, “please consider the environment before printing this email.” It’s a worthy thing, too — paper use has been increasing rapidly over the last twenty years. Here at Sanebox, we think it’s important to treat the environment with respect and minimize how we use natural resources. That’s why we put together this handy guide on minimizing your paper footprint.
Here are some practical steps you can take right now to reduce the amount of paper you’re using.
Kill Off Your Junk Postal Mail
It’s the bane of your mailbox — the credit card offers, TV providers, grocery sales, and more that keep finding their way to you. Junk mail destroys over 100 million trees a year! Opt out of the madness by visiting DMA Choice and telling them you don’t want to get junk mail.
Get Your Bills and Bank Statements Sent to You Electronically
Now that almost everyone is online, there’s no need for paper bills or bank statements. Log on to your utility provider, bank, or other institution and request they send you paperwork electronically. They’ll email you, either with the bill or statement attached or to let you know you need to login to review the document.
Pay Your Bills Online
In addition to getting your bills electronically, you can pay them online via a debit card, credit card, or bank transfer. In many cases you can even set up bank drafts so the money gets taken out of your account each month, saving you the effort of having to remember.
Filing Your Taxes Online
If there’s a more depressing piece of paperwork to fill out than your tax return, we’d love to know what it is! Fortunately, you can easily file your tax return online, and there’s plenty of dedicated software to help you do so. Whether you’re filling in a standard 1040, or you’ve got specialized needs, that software can save time, effort, frustration, and trees! You can even get your tax refund by direct deposit straight into your bank account, rather than via a paper check.
Invest in a Tablet or an eReader
A tablet or eReader makes reading even more of a pleasure. You can carry around thousands of books at once, it remembers where you left off, and some even let you make notes, comments, and highlights. You can also use your tablet to take notes, write letters, send email, and collect important details. Apps like Evernote, Onenote, and Google Keep are another great way to save and organize information.
Scan and Digitize Your Documents
Once you’ve started purging future paper needs from your life, you might want to go even further and get rid of the paper you’ve already got. Much like digital files have taken over from DVDs and CDs, you can easily scan and digitally store your important documents. A good naming and folder system is important so you can find the documents again, but if you have a scanner, you can easily copy and save documents in the cloud so they’ll always be available.
Be Mindful of How You Use Paper
Finally, just be mindful of if you really do need to print something off. With the massive growth in mobile devices, you can access most documents, maps, and other information from a smartphone, tablet, or PC. In most cases that means you probably don’t need to hit up your printer.
So, it’s time to reduce your paper footprint and help the environment in tiny ways.