Did you know that the item that takes up the most space in the landfill is PAPER? Yes, paper and cardboard take up as much as 40 percent of the space in the landfill.

Now, look in your house and locate all the paper, cardboard, magazines, receipts, brochures, maps, etc. It adds up quickly, doesn’t it?

One Saturday, my husband and I decided to finish organizing and cleaning up our home office spaces. It took a lot of effort and harsh decisions, but we cleaned out several drawers, boxes and bins of unnecessary paper. Unnecessary papers are those papers that seem to multiple without warning. As it comes into your house, it gets stacked up with the intention of figuring it out later. That’s the problem with unnecessary paper, the intention. Well, it never happens. So, the best advice is to get rid of it as it comes in – take the 1-2 minutes.

Unnecessary Paper:

  • Receipts, especially from the gas station and restaurants (unless you plan to return it or need it for business/tax purposes)
  • Catalogs / Sales Papers (look, make a decision, recycle)
  • Junk Mail (recycle it immediately, as soon as it comes in the mail)
  • Travel Brochures (unless its for the scrap book, recycle it, if you plan to go back, go online)
  • Movie Stubs / Plane or Travel Tickets (again, unless its for the scrap book, recycle)
  • Printed Emails (really? why? recycle!)
  • Newsletters (if you want to read it later, put it in the bathroom, then recycle)
  • Magazines (same as newsletters, then donate to a local doctor’s office)
  • Notes on scratch paper or notebook paper (figure out what it is your wrote and find a better place and recycle that note)
  • Old School Papers (if you graduated, recycle)
  • Your Child’s School Papers and Art Papers (ok, keep the first few special ones for the scrap book, recycle the rest, my daughter actually “plays” with some of hers when she plays school)

When you are purging your papers, check for phone numbers, addresses, bank information, social security numbers and make sure you SHRED those papers. In most places, you can recycle shredded paper, too.

the author

Originally from Virginia, Jennifer C. Sellers is passionate about sustainability and conservation in South Carolina and throughout the world. She earned her BA in English from Coastal Carolina University and her MAS in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. She is a university sustainability coordinator that implements programs and teaches people about going green and being sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @MyGreenGlasses

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