26% of total waste in landfills is paper waste; here’s how to cut down yours

Paper waste is a problem.

Some of the ways forests keep us safe.

  • They sequester up to 150 kilograms of carbon dioxide annually; currently, the world’s forests store an estimated 296 gigatonnes of carbon in above- and below-ground biomass.
  • They are essential for creating sustainable cities: they can cool the air by up to 8 degrees in urban areas, reducing air conditioning needs by 30%.
  • Trees are natural air filters, removing harmful pollutants and tiny particulates.
  • Forests are home to over 80 per cent of land animals and plants and cover 31 per cent of the world’s total land area.
  • Over 1.6 billion people directly depend on forests for their livelihoods and daily subsistence needs.
  • Trees are vital for mental health. It’s been proven that simply looking at trees makes us feel happier, less stressed and spurs creativity. This is partly because they release chemicals called phytoncides that reduce blood pressure, lower anxiety levels, reduce pain and boost our levels of anti-cancer proteins.
  • Buy recycled paper. As recycled paper does not use virgin materials but instead is obtained from recycled stock, it is 60% less energy-intensive to produce. Therefore, diminishing the number of required trees to be cut down.
  • Use both sides and use paper scraps. This is great for drafts of just scribbling down notes and ideas. If you find yourself with a piece of printed paper, flip it over and use the blank side! You can even create your own notebook out of scrap paper!
  • Go chlorine-free. Bleaching paper with chlorine creates carcinogens called dioxin. So, If you need to use white paper or bleached paper, select either chlorine-free (TCF) or process chlorine-free (PCF).
  • Take the pressure of trees and give alternative materials a go. Some include Stone paper, Kenaf, hemp, agri-pulp and bamboo papers.
  • Find alternatives to regular mail. If there is an option to receive your mail online, opt for it. This goes for bills, bank statements etc.
  • Be gone with unnecessary paper subscriptions. If there are newspapers or magazines you can now access online, try to use them instead.
  • Recycle. Do it and do it right. Separate your paper from other materials like plastic and distribute accordingly. As mentioned above, not all paper can be recycled (for example, greasy pizza boxes) so check your local recycling guidelines to see what can and can’t.
  • Do a “paper” audit. If you work at home or from an office, assess how much paper is being consumed and then take the necessary steps to use less or purchase recycled paper.
  • Buy products with less packaging. At the supermarket, try bringing your own canvas produce bags or can make them yourself with old clothes or cloth.
  • Avoid paper cups and dinnerware. Although convenient, these are highly wasteful and typically cannot be recycled because of their food contamination. Try using reusable dinnerware, or try finding edible dinnerware for your next gets together.
  • BYO Tupperware for takeaway coffee and food. Most paper cups have a plastic coating that cannot be recycled, so instead, take a proper coffee break and drink your coffee in-house or bring your own reusable cup if you’re always on the go.

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