Reducing waste is a great way to help the environment and can easily be done by re-using and recycling things you were going to throw out and by choosing products that use less packaging and biodegradable materials.
Reducing Paper Waste
Back when personal computers first became popular, people thought that the office of the future would have no need for paper. Everyone would have a computer, and every document would be digital. This was great news for environmentalists because trees would no longer get cut down to make into paper that just ends up in the trash again.
While it's true that in many offices use digital documents, this doesn't seem to have reduced the use of paper that much. Printers and photocopiers have become less expensive over time and make it very easy to produce documents rapidly and in large quantities, making it that much easier to waste paper.
We might not be able to stop using paper completely just yet, but we can be smarter about how we use it. Here are a few ideas:
- Think twice about printing documents, email messages, pictures, and things you find on the Web. If it really doesn't need to be on paper, save a digital copy or a screenshot instead. A digital copy is just as easy to share with others, and you won't be wasting paper or ink on something that's going to get thrown away.
- Try to buy paper that is made from recycled post-consumer paper. You probably won't notice a difference, but the trees and landfills sure will.
- Recycle the paper that you do use. Many different types of paper can be recycled, including office paper, newspaper, magazines and catalogs, cardboard, and phone books.
- Get as much use as you can out of your paper. Re-use junk mail envelopes for grocery lists, use the back of paper that's been printed on as scratch or doodle paper, and turn newspapers into gift wrap and craft projects. You can even make your own gift cards for holidays and add a special, personalized touch to each one.
- If your school doesn't have a paper recycling program, talk to your teachers about starting one. You'd be surprised how much paper gets used at school every day!
Reducing Waste from Software and Games
Thousands of games and software discs are produced every year and used by people all over the world. Producing all those discs requires a lot of materials and resources, from the energy used to run the developer’s computers while they are making the game all the way down to the paper used for the user manual.
One way that game and software companies are reducing their waste is to offer their products as an online download instead of selling it in a box at the store. This is great because not only do they conserve the resources used to make the boxes and ship them to the stores, but also you don’t have to waste gasoline driving to the store to buy it or figure out how to dispose of a game or software program that you no longer use.
To reduce your own environmental impact, you can choose the downloadable option, rather than the box. If you have old games and software that you don’t use anymore, consider taking them to a used game or book store and trading them in for other games, or even giving them to a friend.