Friday, March 20, 2009

Planet health: Reducing my paper consumption

annie leonard from body & soul magazineHave you seen The Story of Stuff yet?

Since it was posted online a couple years ago, the film which makes a compelling case for reducing our consumption, has received over 10 million viewers.

I was reminded of the film and its case in April's Body & Soul magazine, which features an interview with Annie Leonard, the Environmentalist and Sustainability Expert behind the film. To sum up her view: "We're trashing the planet. We're trashing each other. And we're not even having fun doing it."

As someone who's rather eco-conscious, I took this article as a reminder to revisit my footprint. Yes, I've been doing great on the recycling front. In addition to sorting my paper and plastics each week, I compost my food scraps and recycle plastics not taken by the city to the Park Slope Food Co-op every second Saturday.

While commendable (pat on back), I must admit I haven't given as much thought on reducing my consumption. So I decided to look at my paper consumption, most of which floods my mailbox each week, and figure out a plan to clamp down. So far this morning I have:
  • Canceled the delivery of my phone book by visiting If half of us do that, we could save 10 million trees a year.
  • Wrote to my landlord about posting a "no menus, flyers, ads" sign on our building to reduce the solicitations we receive. Park Slope residents can pick up a pre-made one from the Park Slope Civic Council.
  • Canceled my subscription to a magazine I no longer read. And putting out old issues for people to take, rather than sending them right to the recycling bin.
This is in addition to:
  • Collecting scrap paper, and feeding the blank side through my printer
  • Signing up for electronic bill paying through my bank/credit card company
  • Opting for no receipt when I make withdrawals at the ATM
  • Calling catalog companies to remove my name from their mailing list
I love how these are all simple things we can all do, without causing too much pain. In fact, you'll notice that most of what I listed is unconscious consumption - stuff we didn't even ask for in the first place. So what's stopping us?

Just remember - the positive improvements we make to our planet (more trees, clean air/water, good quality soil) directly leads to higher quality food and better health for us all.

To my green friends out there, I'd love to hear from you. What have you done to reduce your consumption?


Stiggly Holistics said...

ooh thank you for an opp to share in the comments on my fave subject:
Glenn the founder works for Hawthorne Valley, you can donate some home-made (from recycled curtains, clothes etc) or unwanted reuseable bags to him for them to give to customers who request plastic bags (as education in the process)
other obvious ones that people are on are byo bag and coffee cups and give up drinking bottled water, but less obvious and very important ones are giving up straws! and always choosing the less packaged (or preferably non packaged) products. stop buying plastic drinks of all kinds. you can buy toothbrush heads to replace the top of the toothbrush or buy Preserve toothbrushes made from old yogurt cups and after their lives as toothbrushes become garden furniture. Use old socks as rags instead of paper towels. Hankies and napkins of cloth not paper...
these are a few of my favourite ones that anyone should be able to handle
thanks ameet
and i love the story of stuff

Stiggly Holistics said...

and get a bike!
and put a bucket under you when you shower (or keep the plug in) - use the water to flush the loo or water the plants or wash the floor.
also see No Impact Man's site for more ideas
it is pretty easy to live in a city and have a low carbon footprint

Stiggly Holistics said...

make yourself a portable "eat-out, drink-out" kit. In mine I have a large cloth napkin which doubles as a small table cloth, two sets of bamboo fork, knife, spoon, a bottle opener and two sets of chopsticks. and i oftn carry a ceramic mug as well. you might want to include a collapse-able cup and if you like straws, a metal straw too. you might just inspire curios conversation and plant the idea in others.... throw it in the bottom of your bag just like you would your cloth shopping bag.
great for spontaneous picnics and farmer's market lunches xx

Stiggly Holistics said...

ps old sheets make for great napkins, rags, make-shift bags, etc... as well!

Ameet Maturu said...

Thanks Sacha for your wealth of information!

I've taken your tip of making rags out of old undershirts. I expect it will reduce my consumption of paper towels. Especially when cleaning up after a spill. Thanks for the suggestion!

Anonymous said...

I love this site! I live in NC and we already do so many of the great ideas you have shared! I just emailed 100 people about the phone books, thanks for that fabulous tip! I will share a few of my ideas : we rinse out every plastic bag that comes in our cereal. We reuse them for lunches, produce at the store, trash bags (albeit small), whatever! The plastic is so thick! We don't flush after pee, and the girls in the house wipe with the smallest piece of 100% recycled TP and then we actually toss it in the trash or compost (we have an acre of yard) so we don't fill up toilets with tp. We pushed our school to have a consumer-free potluck picnic, it has been an annual event for 40 years and this year, we went green, sharing with people that if they wanted to eat, they had to bring their own EVERYTHING! Imagine how many eyes were opened by this! I am ashamed to say that I get one magazine subscription. I slap a label on it before passing it on to friends that says, " The US consumes 350 mil tons of mags & 30 mil acres forested annually. Buy 100% recycled toilet paper, drop paper towels for cloth, drop your phone book delivery at and slap a label like this one on every magazine and then pass this magazine on to a friend as quickly as you can!" Everyone that gets the magazine reads this and I just LOVE this idea!!!! Thank you for your blog!

Integrative Nutrition