Resolution “Paper-less”: Update

At the beginning of the year, I shared my New Year’s resolution of reducing the amount of paper I use.  I’m probably long overdue for an update.


So this is what I’ve done so far.


1.  I got rid of papers I’ve been saving.  I wrote about this in my earlier post.  Basically I went through every piece of paper I saved from 8th grade through college (because yes, I did save stuff from 8th grade).  I scanned the relatively few important documents I wanted to save (which wasn’t very much from high school – sadly, I lost most of the notes from my Theology classes, which is ironic because those were the first things I transcribed to my computer, years ago – I’ll come back to this).  I recycled everything else.


2.  I no longer keep receipts.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I used to keep the receipt for every nickel I spent, even if I went to Starbucks with a gift card.  I filed them and kept them, seriously.  Then I started doing my tax returns myself instead of having my dad do them, and I realized that there is no point in keeping personal receipts unless it’s for something I might return.  So now I scan receipts that I will need for taxes – anything related to my car, business, medical expenses, etc. – and recycle or throw the paper copies (yes, I admit to throwing away paper and I’m sorry), along with receipts for groceries and other personal expenses.


3.  I back up what I don’t want to lose!  When you back up files on your computer, you need to back up your back up.  When I had my first laptop (ah, youth!), I loaded it with documents – my writing, journaling, poetry, notes from theology class, etc.  Then my hard drive got corrupted and I lost everything.  And that’s the end of the story.  Much like Strong Bad, my approach to backing up my files was along the lines of “Is that a real thing I have to do?”  This was because my original backup was a 3.5″ floppy disk, and then I got a computer that didn’t have a floppy drive.  So now I use Google Drive and Dropbox, which are both free programs that will automatically sync your files online.  You really should back up your files in two locations, preferably an Internet folder and an external hard drive (or flash drive, or what have you).  I put my personal and work files in Drive and keep Dropbox for my dance company files.


The notion of going paper-less (not paperless, just less paper) has actually expanded beyond my original intentions.  I’ve found there are a lot of ways I can cut down on how much paper I use, and I’ve adopted some of them:


4.  I no longer buy disposable cleaning wipes.  I don’t have a baby or a small child, so this wasn’t a huge deal, but I used to clean EVERYTHING with Clorox disinfecting wipes.  They are just so easy!  But they do create a lot of waste, and the cost adds up.  Now I use washable Handi-wipes and T-shirt rags with my homemade cleaners, which last a lot longer and are much less expensive (try $2 for 2 pounds of baking soda).


5.  I cut back on paper towels.  This one is much harder for me.  Paper towels are really convenient for everything from cleaning up messes to microwaving bacon, but have you looked at how much they cost?!  To me, that’s more outrageous than the amount of waste they generate.  Anyway, I am looking forward to creating my own NON-paper towel roll in the near future, mostly because they can be really cute!  There are lots of tutorials on how to make your own reusable non-paper towel rolls – here’s one.


There are lots of ways to cut back on paper in the home; these are just a few.


Are you trying to reduce waste or use less paper?  If so, what are you doing?


Resolution “Paper-less”: Before

This year I made a New Year’s resolution to go “paper-less.”  Not paperless, meaning getting rid of all the paper in my apartment (but if you want to do that, Small Notebook has some really good tips) – just less paper. I just wanted to get rid of the unnecessary paper I’ve been keeping, and to stop accumulating more paper by scanning and filing important documents on my computer.


This was the focus of my paper reduction project:




Most of that is from college (some are even from high school!).  I had so many binders that I kept half of them facing backward so I could fit them all on my shelf.  I also have a lot of photos, and some stationery that I haven’t used in years.


I didn’t want to get rid of all my college papers – a lot of them are useful resources to me now.  But the way they were organized, they weren’t accessible – I actually forgot a lot of what I had in there.  So I went through everything, scanned what I wanted to keep, and tossed the rest into the recycling bin.




Now I have a folder on my computer that is synced with Google Drive (I also have Dropbox but that’s for my dance company’s files), and one of the subfolders in it is for old school papers.


I also made a sub-folder for receipts – not everything, just stuff I can claim on my tax return.


So next I have to go through my photos. . . .


How do you organize old papers?  Do you keep the originals, save digital copies, or do you toss old stuff?