“Don’t you have any paper at home either?” is a question I am often asked. Everyone knows that we work fully paperlessly at Decos and that I am a big fan of that. However, I must admit that we are not fully paperless at home; of course, I have less of a say in what goes on at home! I am happy though that we use a lot less paper than many other households. Here are my tips to be as paperless as possible at home.
Living without paper
VARA TV program GroenLicht recently visited Decos. They had created a segment about “Living without Paper”. They wanted to know everything about how and why we work paperlessly and what kind of impact that has on the environment. Presenter Milouska Meulens had also started getting rid of paper at home and was shocked: “Once you start cleaning up, you realize that a big part of your life is actually nothing more than old paper. It is also very messy. If you then think about what all is involved in the production process: chlorine to make the paper white, fuel to transport it, and water... I don’t want this anymore!”
I couldn’t agree with her more. So much paper is produced that quickly ends up in the waste paper container, such as ads, newspapers or bills. A big waste that many people contribute to without even thinking about it!
Less paper provides serenity, space & convenience
Of course, certain pieces of paper have sentimental value. We have photo albums and children’s books that we will never throw away. But I think we all have a lot of paper at home we can throw away. Why? The best thing is that it gives you so much tranquility and space in your home, and in your mind. There are people who have bookcases full of books, but if you consider carefully which books you are saving to read again, that would rule out a lot of books.
If you only keep the books you are emotionally attached to or that are very valuable to you, and you do away with the rest, you will create a lot of extra space in your home. I think that a shelf with beautiful objects, such as art of pictures of your loved ones, have much more sentimental value than a stack of books without sentimental value. It’s not only prettier to look at, it also makes me feel calm. It is more open. There is a reason why the Japanese organizing guru, Marie Kondo has so many followers. Decluttering has so many benefits.
Stop the flow and declutter
If you want less paper at home, the most important step is to stop the flow. Ask if you can receive your bills by e-mail. Cancel your subscriptions or request a digital version. Use a scanner app on your smartphone at the front door to scan all your regular mail, so that you can digitize the important things and store them in Dropbox or Google Drive, while shredding or throwing the rest into the waste paper container. This is how the paper we receive does not go beyond the hallway.
The next step is decluttering. Start with your books, because they can be organized quickly. Obviously you must keep anything of sentimental value. Information or reference books can generally be thrown out, because you would now generally use the internet or Wikipedia for looking up information these days.
Next comes the tedious work: your administration. Go through all your binders, scan what you want or need to keep and throw it away. I have already shredded all my old administration. That was an incredible amount of work, but somehow it felt good. When you shred documents page by page you see them again and you can check again to make sure there is nothing stuck to a sheet that you don’t want to discard. I went from folders full of paper to a couple of sheets, and I found a few surprises among all that paper that made me truly happy, as well as something that was important and could not be discarded, such as my vehicle registration.
Tips for less paper at home:
- Attach a No/No sticker to your mailbox. You can request it from your municipality. You will find the link to it on this site.
- If you like ads: use an app.
- Use a good scanner app at your mailbox, such as Microsoft Scanner (free of charge), Scanbot or Scanner Pro (paid but better).
- Request electronic delivery of your bank statements.
- Cancel subscriptions to newspapers or magazines that you don’t read that often. Use Flipboard or Blendle, etc. for reading the news. However, if you like reading background information, take out a digital subscription.
- Hold digital meetings using Minute (free for your club).
- Take advantage of online portals that are provided by your insurance company, pension provider, bank, power supply company or government organizations, etc.
- Don’t use business cards, connect to others through LinkedIn. The nice thing about that is you can quickly see what your common interests are.
- Read books on an e-reader.
- Use audible.com or storytel.nl to listen to books in the car or on your bike.
- Don’t ask for receipts at the supermarket.
- Digitize your children’s art work etc. for later.
I am very curious to hear whether you are just as happy as I am about having less paper at home! How did it benefit you? Talk to me!