Don’t Print Items from Your Computer Unless Absolutely Necessary
The environment is an important part of our lives. It creates the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the place we live in. Though it has been contested back and forth how much of a part humans play in shaping their environment, it is clear that the more waste we put in a landfill or the more pollution we add to the air, the more we negatively impact both our health and the health of our plants, animals, and waterways. If you want a place that is enjoyable to live in for generations to come, there are a number of small things you can do that will help out the environment. If you and other people do your part to create as little waste as possible, the less you will be adding to the landfills, and there will be more room for nature or for living.
One of the ways you can reduce waste going into landfills is to try not to print items when viewing them on your computer unless it is absolutely necessary. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s web site, more than a third of recycled items in the United States were paper in the year 2006. Nearly 85 million tons of paper is used in the USA every year. Considering that only 44 million tons of paper was recycled, there is still a large quantity of paper items that are being thrown away and added to landfills.
Aside from remembering to recycle paper when possible, the best way to reduce paper consumption is not to print the paper at all. If you’re using your computer and want to print an email, a document, or something from the internet, ask yourself first if you really NEED to. If not, don’t do it, and prevent some paper from ending up in a landfill.
When it comes to purchasing books, there are many electronic readers now available, and ebooks are considerably cheaper for the consumer to buy and for a publisher to produce. Also with ebooks, multiple copies can be retained, allowing you to have a backup that you might not otherwise have. Many ebooks can be stored on one electronic reader, so it makes carrying these books hassle free, particularly if you often travel.
Another way to save paper is to print double-sided. If you are printing off sheets to review an essay, report, chart, or other piece, then you can print on both sides of the page without worrying about someone else seeing it in presentation. This also saves considerable amounts of money, as a one hundred page report is suddenly only fifty pages of review. If possible, do as much editing on your monitor as you can. Do spell checks and a preliminary overview before actually printing off anything. This prevents the cost of multiple drafts being printed, though it is understandable that at some point you are likely to need to print off a copy to catch what the eye cannot see on a screen.
If you need a backup of your work, there is more than one way to approach this. While it may be nice to have a hard copy in paper and ink, it may not need to be in complete formal presentation, allowing you to print on both sides of a page and cut out large chunks of empty space. Other paperless options include putting it on a CD or DVD and clearly labeling it, or placing it on an external hard drive. Because these allow you to back up more than one paper at a time, it will save you considerable space in filing and archiving.
Lastly, there are some items that just don’t need to be printed. As mentioned above, not every e-mail needs to be printed. You can forward notes to coworkers, and save e-mails in a separate Word document when you get an important one. Have a favorites list of recipes you found on the internet and bring your laptop to the kitchen. This way you aren’t sorting through an infinite list of dog-eared pages just to find that one chocolate chip cookie recipe. Consider using digital photo frames rather than huge print collections. For scratch paper, use junk mail and the envelopes they came in, or use the back of your kids’ coloring sheets. There’s no need to go out and buy Post-It Notes or use a full sheet of blank paper; just look around and you are sure to find something you can write on when necessary.
Though there will be times when you still need to print various items or when you still have the stubborn coworker or boss who wants the printed page, you can greatly reduce your amount of paper consumption. Ask yourself – do you really need that in printed form? Or will it do to read it on a monitor? Though it may not be much, every little bit you do helps the environment, and the more people who do little things, the greater the benefit to the planet.