Published on January 11th, 2021 | by Guest Contributor0
How to Go Paperless in 2021
By Jane Marsh
If you’re like us, you’re looking for ways to improve your eco-lifestyle as 2021 begins. Here’s an excellent one: resolve to go paperless in the new year!
Look around your house – if you’re anything like most people, you probably have receipts, documents, junk mail, and notes piling up around the house. The tips for going paperless below will not only help you declutter your house and start fresh this year, but significantly reduce your consumption of paper (and therefore trees!).
Here are five ideas to help you get started saving one of our most precious and finite resources:
1. Sign up for Electronic Statements
Technology makes going (and staying!) paperless a breeze. You probably already receive some electronic statements and bills, though if you can completely eliminate paper coming from these accounts, that’s a huge dent in your annual paper needs.
This step can be a simple weekend project. Consider your bank accounts, credit cards, and insurance policies. Have you signed up to get electronic statements? It’s easy to do so either via the company’s website, or call their customer service hotline. While you’re updating your account to receive bills and statements electronically, also indicate you don’t want to receive any promotional material via snail mail, either.
2. Eliminate Junk Mail
Unwanted coupons and catalogs you receive in the mail are a nuisance, and a massive waste of paper, and therefore harmful to the environment, considering most people just throw them into the recycling bin (or worse, the trash). Fortunately, it’s possible to remove your name and address from the mailing list. All you need to do is send a letter with your intentions to the appropriate group.
Any junk mail you do receive – please recycle! This effort will at least ensure you’re not adding more to our overflowing landfills. That habit is a cinch to start. Recycling unwelcome paper immediately after you collect the mail is the way to go.
3. Use Apps and Software
While many folks have already made this transition, anyone still feeling like they need paper to get anything done will be pleasantly surprised to see how helpful apps and technology can be. A bevy of tools make going paperless a snap. Everything from your to-do list, banking, grocery lists, and sending documents can be done with an app these days. A cloud storage app and document scanning app will definitely come in handy, as they ensure you have digital access to important things that can be wasteful in paper form.
Be sure to sync those apps to all your devices. That way you’ll be able to access everything from everywhere. Having that cohesiveness will help you fully embrace the paperless lifestyle. It might take time to adjust to your new system, but the planet (and your paper-pile-free home!) will thank you.
4. Recycle Documents You No Longer Need
Sifting through those paper piles is long over due. Admit it – we’re guilty of this, too! Take time to run through everything before recycling them. If the documents contain sensitive or personal information, shred them first for security. Most regions will accept shredded paper in recycling bins (though the shredded paper must be contained; check your city’s requirements on shredded paper).
Once you’re set up with digital storage, you may also scan any important documents you might need later, then shred and recycle the original. That step makes going paperless less stressful, as you’ll still have access to your documents in the future if you need them. Use this opportunity to get organized, too. Keeping your vital records together helps you eliminate clutter and increase efficiency in the long run.
The United States throw away 267 million tons of waste every year. So ensure you’re doing the right thing by recycling correctly.
5. Purchase a Scanner
A scanner is a smart investment when you need to copy pertinent documents, especially if you work from home. You won’t have to file anything physical. Instead, you can scan and upload your documents to your hard drive or cloud storage.
In some cases, you’ll need to keep the original versions. For example, you don’t want to toss your birth certificate, marriage license, or government issued documents like this. Even so, your paper collection will shrink — and that’s all that matters. Having a few necessary documents as opposed to hundreds lying around is the goal.
Commit to going paperless!
Going paperless is an excellent New Year’s resolution. Your house will be cleaner and less cluttered as a result. Plus, you will be making a positive impact on the environment by reducing your paper consumption. Another win-win for you and the planet!
About the Author: Jane is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co and an environmental writer covering green technology, sustainability and environmental news.