How To Use Less Paper At The Office and Home: 10 Tips

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

In today’s ecologically-minded society, one of the easiest ways to cut down on waste output and reduce your carbon footprint is to use less paper.

A great deal of everyday paper waste is due to carelessness and can easily be avoided. With 750,000 photocopies being made every minute in businesses across America and hundreds of thousands of trees felled simply to make paper grocery bags, it’s clear that daily paper choices have a great impact on the health of the environment. Simple changes at home and in the office can help combat these startling statistics. With these ten steps you can use less paper and even save a few pennies!

Using Less Paper at the Office

Cutting down on the amount of paper used at the office can minimize costs and increase efficiency. By going as paperless as possible, you and your colleagues can help reduce the overall waste output of your workplace.

1) Utilize email – Paper memos are often unnecessary in today’s workplace. Since most offices are networked for electronic efficiency, sending inter-office communications by e-mail is a quicker and easier option than old-fashioned memos.

2) Don’t print it if you can read it on your computer – Printing out websites or e-mails just so you don’t have to read them on a computer screen is a waste of paper, ink, and time. Browse or read the information you need on your computer and save a tree or two.

3) Print only what you need – When it is necessary to print information, don’t print what you don’t need. Search for printer-friendly versions of things to avoid printing entire web pages. If only a few paragraphs from several separate sources are needed, copy and paste them into one word processor document and print that instead.

4) Check your settings – Before printing or making copies, be sure to check your device settings. Few things waste more paper than setting up for multiple copies, pressing Start, and realizing too late that you aren’t getting the results you want. If you’re unsure about how something is going to copy or print out, make a single copy or print a test page before doing the whole batch.

5) Keep devices in working order – Dirty printer heads, empty ink cartridges, and low toner can all result in an inadvertent waste of paper. Be sure to keep an eye on the devices you use most at the office and alert the person in charge of maintenance when ink or toner appear to be running low. It’s also a good idea to print a test page before any large print job to ensure that the print heads are clean and your documents will print without horizontal banding. These tips can help you cut down on the shocking 650 pounds of paper that each American uses per year.

Using Less Paper at Home

Reducing paper use at home decreases waste and can save thousands of trees. By making a few easy switches and using less paper for everyday household tasks, you reduce your family’s drain on the Earth’s natural resources, as well as your pocket!

1) Choose reusable cleaning products – Consider switching from paper towels to cloth hand towels, dish rags, and sponges for common cleaning tasks. Using a cloth hand towel to dry your hands saves dozens of paper towels per week, and using a sponge and liquid cleaning solution instead of disposable wipes can drastically reduce the amount of paper you throw away.

2) Stop using paper plates – Disposable plates may make cleanup easier, but they only serve to contribute to paper waste. Investing in a few durable dishes for everyday use is a much greener choice.

3) Reuse your grocery bags – The next time you shop, don’t throw away the bags that your groceries were packed in. Instead, bring them back to the store on your next trip to use again. Most stores now offer a discount to customers who reuse bags. Even better, consider purchasing reusable bags to use whenever you shop.

4) Utilize scrap paper – Chances are, no matter how careful you try to be about paper use, you’re going to screw something up when you try to print it out at your computer. Instead of throwing these “messed up” printouts away, save them for use as grocery lists, coloring sheets for the kids, or tally sheets the next time you play a board game.

5) Manage money online – Bills and other mailings add up fast and are a huge waste of paper. In today’s technological age, just about anything you can do via paper mail can be accomplished on the Internet. Consider making your money management tasks electronic, including all major banking and billing transactions. Doing so saves time as well as paper.

For more information on reducing waste at home and in the office, visit

How Do YOU Save Paper?

Do you have a nifty way of being frugal with paper? Care to share it? Leave your tip in the comment box below.

2 thoughts on “How To Use Less Paper At The Office and Home: 10 Tips”

  1. @Rob thanks for your tips. Double sided is supported by most big laser printers as standard, and using the other side to take notes can be done by anyone!

    Using fast printing does save loads of ink. Do you use it for print jobs that for presentations or anything fancy?

    One BONUS TIP I can add is to use multiple pages per sheet (often 2 per sheet, sometimes 4 per sheet and occasionaly 8 per sheet!). This saves bucket-loads of paper!

  2. Hi Simon,

    Since working for myself I’ve learned to use both sides of the paper – for writing notes and also printing out articles that I need to take with me but which aren’t for anyone else.
    Also, set the printer to ‘Fast’ – it uses less ink.

    all the best


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