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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Reduce Paper Waste!

Reduce Paper Waste!

Look in your trash bin. C’mon, look. What do you see? Knowing what your family is throwing out is key to reducing the amount you contribute to the landfill. Is there a lot of paper in your trash? Food scraps? Plastic? Here are a few tips on how to make a significant dent in what goes from your house into the hungry jaws of the garbage truck each week.

Clean Paper Waste

Don’t hit “print” if it’s not absolutely necessary. Use both sides of the paper. Donate magazines to hospitals, nursing homes, fitness facilities, and the like, so lots more people can read them before they are eventually recycled. Train your family to put newspapers, old school papers, and empty cereal or other boxes in the recycling bin.

Yucky Paper Waste

If you’ve done all the things mentioned above, you’ve already reduced your paper waste considerably, but what can you do about the paper that’s not wanted by recyclers, like used paper napkins, paper towels, dryer sheets, and facial tissues?

Napkins: Get out of the habit of setting the table for every meal with a fresh clean paper napkin for each person. Lots of unused but crumpled napkins end up in the trash at table clearing time that way. Instead, put a basket in the center of the table and let people grab for a napkin only when chins actually need wiping. Better yet, use cloth. Cloth napkins can be purchased cheaply and reused indefinitely. You can even make them inexpensively by hemming squares you cut from fabric remnants. They can be a fun, colorful addition to your table, and they won’t really add that much to your laundry.

Paper towels: Reduce waste by purchasing the kind that is perforated every 6 inches or so, rather than the standard 11 inches or so. This way you can take only as much as you need and reduce waste. Better yet, eliminate paper towel waste completely by setting aside your older, worse-for-wear dishtowels and hand towels to clean up messes with; then wash and reuse.

Paper plates:
If your cupboards aren’t already full of microwave safe cookware and dinnerware, invest in some so you don’t have to use paper plates for this purpose. If you really hate doing dishes to the point where you often rely on paper plates, try reducing the amount of dishes you have to wash by eating your salad on your dinner plate instead of dirtying a separate salad bowl or plate. You can also “save your plate” and use it for dessert if it’s not too messy from dinner.

Try Some Hankie Panky
Grandma used hankies, laundered them and used them again–why can’t you? Of course, this suggestion is not for the germ phobic, chronic allergy sufferer, or for that one or two times a year when you are hit with an inordinately wet head cold. But for occasional sneezing, a cold weather runny nose, sad movie weeping, and laugh-until-you-cry nose blows, maybe a pretty hanky could replace that giant wad of tissues that’s going to end up in the trash.

Read the rest of this story in the 2013 Farmers' Almanac!

5 comments

1 Victoria { 09.26.12 at 10:29 am }

paper plates , paper , towels , napkins any mail or paper that isn’t glossy burn in our chiminea most of our bills we have gone paperless.newspaper we line our garden to keep down the weeds and then it turns to mulch.

2 linda partridge { 09.07.12 at 12:24 am }

Computer paper that has been printed on..instead of throwing away..filling my trashcan.. I get my cutter and cut several pieces of note size paper to write notes on,I use paper I receive in the mail and is blank on the back side..cut them up for notes..Also I use envelopes after I get the mail out…. a lot..I use a lot of notes,I can’t remember like I used too..lol….saves paper,and my trashcan from getting so full..

3 r p sawtelle { 09.05.12 at 3:39 pm }

in oregon where we live. we can put paper towels, napkins, paper plates, food waste into out yard debris carts and there picked up every week. also so save on paper, i reuse the backs of envelopes from mail i receive, for making to do lists, grocery lists and all my notes, plus go through the junk mail letters and such to see what letters don’t have something written on both sides, or haven’t bought any paper tablets in 7 years. also have cut down on trash so right now my garbage can is only picked up every other week instead of weekly. my neighbor gets her garbage picked up weekly, but its a half can so she has reduced

4 Caryn Dalton { 09.05.12 at 11:51 am }

I forgot to add that you could start a magazine or book exchange at your church or a drive to collect magazines for Senior Centers or local nursing homes!

5 Caryn Dalton { 09.05.12 at 11:45 am }

I really enjoyed this article. Judy is right about donating magazines…before putting magazines in the recycling bins, pass them on! One of my co-workers gives me a stack of magazines to pass along to my Mom. My Mom is elderly and can not afford the luxury of buying magazines which is something she misses doing. If you have elderly parents, friends or neighbors, pass magazines along to them as they often are living on fixed incomes and can not afford them. When my Mom is done with the magazines she passes them on to the senior center, my sisters or others.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.