Thursday, August 5, 2010

4 Tools for Reducing Paper Use

Today's post is going to be instructivus. (That is Latin for "instructive and helpful to YOU." Obviously.)

I was more than a little disappointed when I read this article, How to go Paperless. I think was hoping to find some real digital alternatives to using paper rather than just "get a scanner."

So naturally I'm going to tell you. Granted, the paperless article tells you how to get rid of paper you already have -- but shoot, I know how to do that. It's called a recycle bin. Over the past two years, I have gone almost completely paperless in my personal and professional life. Here are the tools I used to do it.

Google Docs.
You have to have a gmail account I think, but who cares, they're free. What I love about Google Docs is that you can type up notes or even a document, or upload an existing Word, PPT, or Excel file to it. This is great if you're at work and want to commit that elusive scene to paper but know it'll be hours before you get home, and then you'll be brain dead by that time, anyway. Open up Google Docs and voila. Also, it tends to be better than notes because you have it one place. Even better, you can share your Google Doc with others. I use it for a lot of things like blog post drafting, scenes, and other notes.

To-do web sites.
Sites like Remember the Milk and Backpack It organize your lists and ideas. Most of these are free and usually have synchronized apps for your smart phone.

Online checking and bill pay.
This has resulted in a huge reduction in paper. My credit card, checking account, utility, cell, and tv and internet bills all come electronically, reducing the incredible waste created by envelopes and other inserts these things come up--but also the storage issue. I like to keep my stuff organized in a file cabinet, but that necessitates shredding checking account statements after a few years, which is a supremely annoying task. But if you get your checking account online account set up, chances are they store your statements in PDF form for you online, and let you access them there. That is huge! Same with my credit card statements. I love this. This has reduced a huge amount of paper.

One Note
Windows and Microsoft Office users get this great program, One Note, which is a free-form way to store notes, pictures, web sites, or anything else you need. I can't recommend this enough and it's endless in the levels or organization--in a good way. I use it for a variety of things, but mostly for items that I don't know how to store anywhere else.

Have anything to add?

12 comments:

~Nicole Ducleroir~ said...

I've gone (almost) entirely paperless at home. It began with online banking, and now I view and store everything online that used to be printed on paper.

I have to check out Google Docs and OneNote, though. Thanks for the tip!

Anne R. Allen said...

Ditto on thanks about Google Docs and One Note. I'd heard of them, but had no idea how useful they could be. I'm with you on online banking/bill pay. There's also a huge savings in postage. Thanks. Great tips.

Linda G. said...

My, what an instructivus post! Good suggestions. I do all our banking/bill-paying online--it saves not only paper, but also time. Gotta love that.

Mia said...

I do these things already :) Great list, I really like One Note. It's so free and flowing, like that really hippy cousin we have.

Sierra Godfrey said...

I can't believe you guys like this post...I just vomited it up out of outrage over the paper shredder recommendation! Just goes to show, I really don't have a clue what you want to hear me blog about, LOL!

Yeah Google Docs ROCKS -- it's actually how I capture the posts for the Friday roundups.

Love you!

Tahereh said...

haha i love this post. YAY GO GREEN!

Elizabeth Ryann said...

What's funny to me is I recently, as in last weekend, bought a shredder so I could finally get rid of some of this stupid paper my credit cards and bank INSIST on sending, though I went paperless the second the option was presented.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Ah, a shredder is not useless, not at all. I was just saying that it's not the only method for going paperless.

Actually, I quite like shredders, but then I'm a paranoid sort.

Penelope said...

Great post! I love Google Docs as well. I had not, however, heard of Remember the Milk and I'm pretty stoked about that find. Thanks!

Genie of the Shell said...

Unsubscribe from junk mail! It's a constant battle, but 90% or more of the paper in my recycle bin comes from junk mail. It's so worth finding out ways to stop it from coming. Does anyone have a tip on that, besides trying to contact each sender?

At my old apartment, I kept getting mail from a fake church that informed me that "they" had prayed for me, and I now owed them a donation to be sent back in the postage-paid return envelope provided. I did some internet searching and traced the P.O. box to a billionaire scam artist who had hired a team of lawyers to make sure he could keep making a living off of clueless religious people. There was, of course, no real church.

Since I couldn't contact the scam artist to tell him to stop sending me creepy Jesus-opens-his-eyes posters, I mailed the return envelope back filled with heavy rocks. That got me off the mailing list.

But if there is an easier way, like a website that isn't a scam itself where I can register to block junk, somebody help me out.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Genie...thanks for commenting! I think there's a junk mail web site you can sign up for...and check this out: http://www.stopjunkmail.org/home.htm You can download a PDF on how to stop it.

I recycle all junk mail. Don't throw empty envelopes in the trash!

I love your solution to stopping the church scam. Sometimes I put pieces of scrap paper in postage-paid credit card application envelopes and send it back to them so that they have to pay the postage-- and the costs of paper.

Meghan Ward said...

Great post! I'll have to check out Remember the Milk. I was using a daily goals website for a while, Joe's Goals, but stopped. I do do most of my stuff online, though--Bill Pay, Google Docs, etc. I just need an iPhone for my grocery lists now!

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