Welcome to Green Boot Camp

Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Week One--A Paper Recycling Primer

Welcome to Green Boot Camp, a 52-week program to help fine-tune or change your habits so that you can live a greener life. As I'd posted a few days ago, each week during Green Boot Camp I'm going to be focusing on a different "green" habit. Why one habit a week? I figure that if we take it slowly and consistently, I'm confident that you will be successful in adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle without feeling like you'd worked hard at it.

I'm lucky. My green lifestyle started when I was a kid and I began accompanying my mother to her volunteer gig at a local recycling plant. To me this wasn’t work; it was fun.

While there I loved tearing the covers off of magazines and the labels off of mayonnaise jars. Then we’d toss them onto two conveyors belt tongues that fed into separate recycling machine mouths. I was almost giddy as I heard this monster smashing the glass and chewing through paper.

None of my friends quite understood what I did on the weekends with my mother.

"What's a recycling plant?" I remember them asking me. "Is it for your garden?"

As a kid, if I wanted to get rid of a piece of paper, I was only allowed to do so once I’d used every inch of it for writing down phone messages or math problems I needed to solve for homework.

I still refuse to get rid of paper unless it’s been used on both sides, and as a magazine writer and book author, I get a lot of paper mailed to me—in the form of press kits. I will disassemble these kits and “harvest” clean paper that I can reuse in my printer.

Speaking of which, for the first week, we're going to focus on improving our paper recycling habits. Today, though, we're going to talk a bit about how you can reuse paper first before you toss it in the recycling bin.

These days nearly every home has a computer and a printer, meaning that you are probably going through a lot of paper yourself. And if you've got kids, you've got lots of paper. If they aren't printing out tons of stuff, like the latest Webkinz they hope to get from Santa, they're likely bringing home piles of paper from school. This means that without even realizing it, you have a lot of paper that you can reuse before you recycle it.

So the next time your printer is running low on paper, set your timer for five minutes and go on a paper hunt throughout your house. See how many sheets of paper you can find that are printed on one side only and which you can use in your printer. Who cares if it's colored paper, if you're just going to be printing out a draft of something. This way you won't have to use brand-new paper at your first printing.

If you find paper that's dog-eared and will jam the printer, then turn it into a scratch pad for phone messages, homework help or shopping lists.

As far as shopping lists go, if you'd like to kill two birds with one paper stone, take all of those envelopes that come in the unsolicited credit card offers we all received nearly daily in the mail and begin to use them for writing your shopping list. The benefit of reusing these envelopes is that you can slip your coupons inside the envelope and have your list all in one place

Let me know some of the surprising places you've found paper to reuse in your printer.


Promises Fulfilled said...

At my husband's work, they print out a lot of "draft" type of things, and then normally, the paper would be thrown out. He is actually bringing that paper home so that we can use the other side for our son to scribble on (he is two), or for us to print out other things from the internet that does not need to be on a brand new piece of paper. It is really not reusing something in our house per say, but it is helping the environment all the same!

Leah Ingram said...

That's an awesome idea--to salvage used paper from the office. I would recommend more people consider doing this--assuming it doesn't violate any privacy rules at work. Also, if you work in an office that prints out personal stuff, like Social Security numbers, make sure you toss the used paper in your shredder--to protect the identity of the innocent--when you're done using both sides!