This post is my contribution to the January Green Moms Carnival: “Green Decluttering” hosted by Amber.
I am not an expert in cleaning, especially since Joshua was born. I honestly see no reason to continue to clean the same thing when you can’t even see the dirt there. If something’s not visibly dirty, I’m not going to clean it.
However, clutter does bother me. As a teacher, my biggest clutter problem is paper. Piles and piles of paper. The only thing I’ve found to really remedy the paper pile problem is to not create the clutter in the first place. In the past few years, I’ve made a real effort to not bring unnecessary paper into the house.
Here are the best ways I’ve found to reduce my paper clutter at home:
- Think before I print! I don’t keep my printer hooked up to my laptop at all times, so I actually have to walk into the other room to print. This really helps reduce my printing because my laziness prevents it. I have a pretty notebook that I write recipes in, so when I find one online, I copy it down into the notebook. I’m sure you could do this electronically as well, but I like the notebook method.
- Only do work electronically at home. I don’t bring lesson plans or assignment papers home. I have them all saved on my computer, so it’s easy to work on documents on the laptop. The only papers I bring home are ones I have to grade, and I haven’t yet found a way to reduce them!
- Reduce and then immediately sort junk mail! When I get the mail, I only bring the important items into the house. The rest of the mail stays in my car (we have a long driveway!) to wait for recycling day or goes right into the recycling bin. I’ve tried to reduce our junk mail by removing my name from lists, but we still get junk almost every day.
- Cancel the newspaper! You can read the news online for free. Or watch it on TV.
- Pay bills online or set up automatic payments. You won’t need stamps or envelopes and you won’t ever have a late payment.
- Immediately recycle envelopes and used scrap paper. These papers only contribute to clutter and make your piles bigger. You can save them to write on, but I’ve found that I’d rather use a contained notebook than disheveled scraps of paper.
Just like so many other aspects of being green, reducing consumption is a necessary first step. The best way to declutter is to prevent clutter in the first place. Now if only I could apply what I know about paper to toys…
Any tips on reducing toy clutter? I just throw them in a basket so far!
This is my fifth year teaching environmental science (seventh year teaching), and I feel more and more responsibility to be a good role model for my students.
Paper use is a constant battle in our school. Not only is paper expensive, it’s often wasted. Nothing frustrates me more than finding a piece of paper abandoned on the floor (except maybe when I’ve lent out all my pens and have nothing to write with).
Over the years, I’ve found ways to reduce my paper usage in school. It started a few years ago when I threw the problem out to my AP students and asked them to brainstorm solutions. One of the great ideas that came out of the class was making a CD of supplemental articles, powerpoint notes, study guides, and lab documents for each chapter. I’ve done this with my AP class for a few years, and I have to say it takes quite a bit of organization on both ends to make it work.
In my other classes, I’ve found a few simple ways to conserve paper, too. I find that many handouts are unnecessary (which is why they end up on the floor or in the trash/recycle bin, instead of in notebooks).
- In lab, I’ll often project powerpoint slides with directions instead of making a copy for each student. I’ll then attach that powerpoint to my school website, so students can download it as a resource when writing up their report.
- I’ll also use the website by linking to an article that I’d like students to read for homework instead of printing a copy for each student. It’s actually easier to work this way, since I don’t have to spend time standing in line for the copier or clearing paper jams (which in turn wastes more paper).
Sometimes, however, I have to use paper. There are some things that just can’t be done without it (think quizzes and tests), and while I’d love to have a “paperless” classroom, I really don’t believe it’s possible without a computer for each student. Still, when I use paper, I’m always cautious to conserve.
- Making double-sided copies is a great start, since it will cut paper consumption in half.
- If the assignment is short, for example five analysis questions, I’ll often put two or more copies on one page, then cut them up so each student gets a partial piece of paper.
- I’m also conscious of page number in larger assignments. I always hate when there’s one line that heads onto another sheet of paper. I’ll fiddle with the font and formatting to get that last line back onto the previous page, being cautious to keep the font big enough to read and to keep the document from looking squished.
- Finally, I never make extra copies. I’ve found that students become more responsible for their papers when spares aren’t easy to come by. I will, however, link documents to my website so students can download important papers that they’ve lost.
At home, I hardly ever print anything for personal use. Instead, I copy recipes online recipes into a notebook which creates my own little cookbook. I’ll also copy driving directions onto a scrap piece of paper or junk mail.
What do you do to save paper?
In addition to getting ready for the AP Exam next week, visiting the wastewater (sewage) treatment plant three days last week, going on a trip to release salmon with a few of my students and a bunch of sixth graders today… I’ve been writing my final paper for my Long Island Sound: Environmental Perspectives course. It’s about 17 pages long (with pictures) and titled “Moon Snail Predation on Farm-Raised Hard-Shell Clams: Effective Management.” I was trying to figure out how to upload it but it’s not working, so lucky you, you won’t have to read it!