Save on paper by using both sides

True story: I can’t remember when I last bought a package of printer paper for my home office. Why?  Because I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping paper that’s just been used on one side, and then using that for ‘internal’ purposes like:

  • Printing anything that’s for my use only (like meeting agendas, speaking notes, outlines, drafts or working copies)
  • Printing anything destined for a file cabinet (like tax e-receipts or project documents)
  • All faxes
  • Scribble sheets for note-taking (in place of notepads)

And more!  In fact, I’ve discovered that very little of my printing actually requires clean, new paper.

Interested in saving on paper in your home or workplace?  It’s easy – just place a small bin beside your printer and/or fax machine for paper that’s been only used on one side (be sure there’s no sensitive info on the side that has been used).  Then encourage everyone to take from that bin when they need to print or scribble, and contribute to it with their own ‘half-used paper’.

(And please recycle paper after it’s been used on both sides!)

Sometimes one IS enough

January 26, 2010

In public washrooms, soap and paper towels are available for free – so it’s easy to get into the habit of using lots of both.  Yet when it comes to clean hands, one pump of soap and one paper towel are usually enough to do the job.
I believe most people want to do the right thing – but often we need little reminders.  If every soap dispenser had a little sign next to it, “Please use just one pump” and if every paper towel dispenser had a little sign “Paper comes from trees – please use as little as possible”, I bet a lot less soap would get used and many trees (and dollars) could be saved.
Agree?  If so, check out attractive, free signs here.  Download them, print them and post them in washrooms at your school, office, business or other public place.  I’m betting you’ll see an instant difference!
(Please e-mail for information on mounted or laminated signs customized with your logo.)
In the News:
Even as climate change marches on (the latest news: 2009 was tied as the second warmest year on record ), there is no shortage of confusing and contradictory climate information in circulation.  For concise, science-based explanations of common denial arguments, check out the UK Royal Society’s simple guide (sourced from this page). 

If you’re among the many who heat with electric baseboards, you need to know about mini-splits: an easy retrofit that delivers big savings on heating. 
Hydro-Québec and Mitsubishi last week announced the largest electric vehicle trial in Canada.

Greener Napkin Etiquette

September 23, 2009

The paper napkin is part of just about every restaurant meal. At fast food restaurants, we can even help ourselves – and it’s easy to grab a handful without thinking, most of which end up in the trash unused or barely used. Our napkin habit consumes millions of trees a year. Millions.

But here are five simple ways you can save a tree:

At home, try to get away without using napkins in the first place
At restaurants, use just one napkin
Give extra napkins and napkins that have been lightly used a second life: use them as tissues (they’re usually a lot stronger than regular tissues), or tuck them into your car’s glovebox for a myriad of end uses.
When buying, choose napkins with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content
Compost used napkins when possible, so that they can become ingredients for the next generation of trees
Save a napkin, save a tree: it’s nature’s air filter.

In the News

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday urged world leaders to tackle climate change on a global scale.,0,6860735.story

Could this face in the ice be Mother Nature sending us a message?
Hazy Opera House: a dust storm hits parched Sydney

Terry Fox Run

I’m delighted to share that I have raised over $26,500 in pledges. Thanks to everyone who contributed! (It’s still not too late:

Not all recycled paper is created equal: different words, different percentages and different certifications make buying paper a lot more complicated than it used to be. But here’s a bit of clarity.

Paper made from Post-Consumer Waste is made from honest-to-goodness recycled paper: material that has gone through one consumer cycle, been collected via recycling centers or blue boxes, and re-processed into new paper. The percentage of Post Consumer Waste in paper varies, but if you find a product that’s 100% Post-Consumer Waste, you’ve got the best – because it’s made of material diverted (rescued?) from the landfill.

Paper made from Pre-Consumer Waste is made from scrap paper that never made it to the consumer: trimmings from print shops and newspapers, surplus copies printed, etc. Paper made from Pre-Consumer Waste is better than paper made from virgin pulp, but not as good as paper made from Post-Consumer Waste.

And since most paper available is not 100% recycled, look for an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council – or Green Seal ( logo that certifies that the non-recycled portion of the paper comes from sustainably managed forests.

In the news

Ontario’s first annual 50 Million Tree Weekend ( happens this Friday and Saturday: ordinary citizens are being challenged to plant trees in support of the United Nations’ Billion Tree Campaign (

Trees play a vital role in the world’s carbon cycle, and this is the perfect time of year to plant them. Learn more here:

Paper is part of everyday life at home and work, but it has a dollar and environmental cost. Here are a few ideas to save on both:

1. Use your photocopier’s double sided option. If it doesn’t have one, learn how to feed paper in so that you can manually copy one side, flip the paper and copy on the other. Big paper saving potential.

2. Use your printer’s double sided option. If you don’t know how it works, check with your IT support person or click Print – Properties and look for the options. Or learn how to feed paper so you can print one side, flip the paper and then print the other.

3. Minimize the font on your e-mail autosignature so that e-mails you send that need to be printed out don’t spill over onto another page.

4. Instead of discarding paper that’s been used on one side (including incoming paper), put it in a bin, file or slot near your printer or copier, so the other side can be used too.

5. Print only what really needs to be printed; e-file when possible.

6. Choose post-consumer (important words) recycled paper to save a tree.