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Home » Waste and recycling

How to reduce paper waste and your paper footprint

Submitted by on Thursday, 21 August 2008 Loading Add to favourites  11 Comments

Mandy Haggith’s paper mountain - does this convince you to reduce your paper waste?
We’ve all heard about carbon footprints, but have you heard of a paper footprint?

One inspiring woman wants to show us all about our paper footprint with her travelling road show.

Mandy Haggith from Scotland has gathered a pile of paper that represents the average person’s paper usage in a year.

It amounts to an incredible 1/4 ton per person. The paper mountain includes 120 toilet rolls, two bin bags full of junk mail and a staggering 1500 catalogues.

So far, visitors to Mandy’s paper footprint display have found the effects so shocking that they have starting reducing, reusing and recycling paper more.

I’m guessing this is the result she was intending to achieve!

To support her work, Mandy has written a book called ‘Paper trails’ which shares the experiences of her travels around the world to research paper usage.

One incredible statistic cites that for every tonne of paper that is recycled, rather than dumped in the landfill, we save enough electricity to run a 3 bedroomed home for a year and 30,000 litres of water.

There are many ways to reduce our paper waste. Here are 5 tips that we incorporate at Chez Green:

  • If you need to print something, then print double sided. If it’s not an official document then use the back of old letters to print on.
  • Keep paper that has only be used on one side to feed through the printer, write shopping lists on or give to the kids for the art work.
  • If you need to buy a ream of paper, then buy 100% post consumer waste paper.

How about you? How to do you reduce paper waste at home and in your office?


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  • Darren says:

    Hi Mrs Green,

    Great blog. Good tips for saving paper, but I always find that when you try to re-use paper in a printer it’s hit and miss whether it goes through correctly (sometimes gets caught up as it’s not competely flat).

    On the subject of printers, hope you’re using re-cycled ink cartridges too. A ream of paper doesn’t come close to the waste packaging needed for new printer cartridges. You don’t need to use brand ink (i.e. Espom or Canon) – it just costs more.

  • Mrs Green says:

    Hi Darren,
    That’s a lovely site you have over there – are you doing well with it? Perhaps we can hook up for an interview sometime to give you some more coverage for your mission.

    You’re right – not all paper goes through the printer, especially on my fussy machine!
    I do use Epsom cartridges, and a new one if I’m printing photos because refills fade very badly for photography.

    For everyday printing however, we use a black and white laser which is much better for the environment we feel. What are your thoughts on this?

  • Darren says:

    Hi, the website is doing well, thanks.

    Sure, an interview sounds good. I don’t tend to print out many photos (have lots on hard disc, but not many printed), so I can’t really comment on fading, but try using cheaper brands than the expensive Epsom cartridges.

    I’ve used laser printers in the past, but not for a few years. The one thing I remember about them was the toner was a nightmare (not very healthy if you spill it!).

  • Mrs Green says:

    Ok Darren, well I’m busy for a couple of weeks, but I’ll be in touch to ask you some questions and we’ll set something up.
    What I do now is use an online printer who send me hard copies of photographs; I’ve found this to be the more eco friendly option for the amount I print 🙂

  • Marry says:

    One of the think we can do is to not to use plastic bags when we do grocery shopping. Go buy enough reusable bags and put them in your car. I also find there is a information site give out free reusable bags – . So next time you do grocery shopping, bring them with you. When you are being asked “paper or plastic”. Just give them your reusable bags.

  • Mrs Green says:

    Hello Marry,
    You are the second person to bring this site to our reader’s attention, so that’s another good vote. We have very few paper bags over here in the UK – stores favour plastic, but we never take them and always have a selection of reusable bags with us 🙂

  • Just found your site. Very cool. I like the short and long term goals. Good luck!
    I am just getting my blog going which focuses on ideas for energy conservation and green transportation.

  • Mrs Green says:

    Hello Relevant mind – good luck with your blog; ideas for energy conservation are very important right now, so there should be plenty of people visiting your site to gain new information and ideas. 🙂

  • Ela Sharma says:

    Yes, we need to reduce our papaer footprint. Eevryday, more than half of my mail is junk mail. If we can reduce junk mail and paper advertising I think we can reduce the consumption of paper. I have a focus group on Green Health Care on Linkedin:; if interested in sharing ideas on policies, incentives and sustainability solutions that can promote green health.

  • I like the message you are sending Mrs. Green. I have been trying to reduce junk mail but it keeps grt more and more.

    Helthy Living
    How Green are you? Find out

  • Mrs Green says:

    @Ela Sharma: Hi Ela; good to see you and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m not really familiar with Linkedin; but I’ll take a look at your link – a focus group on green health care sounds great. Is it popular and what sorts of things do you discuss?

    @Healthy Living: Hello healthy living; welcome and thank you for taking time to comment and sharing about your own site. I’m 9 out of 10 on your quiz – I put ‘no’ for the weekly shop one because I like to support local businesses which might mean a trip to the organic farm shop on a Wednesday, the butchers on a Friday etc …