Change the World, Part 2

Yesterday I asked you to suggest a challenge for me to work on this week as part of the Change the World Wednesday challenge at Reduce Footprints.


During the past 24 hours I gave serious thought to where I waste resources and realized my lifestyle of being a night owl is the one things I could and should change.  I normally head to bed at 3 am, which is close to when many people are getting up.  While I don’t use a lot of electricity during the early morning hours I do have one light on during that time.  That’s one light that even being only 13 watts is still energy I could save.  I will be attempting to head to bed earlier by an hour a day, or if too drastic at least every other day to try, once again, to reset my internal clock at least back to midnight.

But you did ask questions I would like to answer today about my lifestyle and how I was able to make these changes.

Joy@ Joyfully Green asked about  paper products because of the amount of trees that are cut each year. Small Footprints asked me to talk about how I made the changes in my life.  Today I will share with you how I eliminated nearly all paper from my life.


I have done well cutting out paper products from my life.  The only paper products purchased are recycled toilet paper and sandpaper. a I buy toilet paper in a case online with zero plastic packaging.  This might have been the easiest change I made what is easier to do but to switch one product for another that has no visible difference?

Sandpaper is another matter. I know of no alternative to sandpaper. Yes, I have sanding blocks that have been used for years and are still holding up well, but for some jobs I need sandpaper.  I enjoy restoring other people’s trash and finding homes for them so I must resign myself to the fact that to continue to save good furniture from ending up in the landfills I must purchase a paper product.

Paper tissues (Kleenex) are something I never liked.  My grandfather carried white handkerchiefs and my grandmother carried lovely embroidered ones their entire lives. I watched my grandmother lovingly ironing their sheets and handkerchiefs each week.  I don’t go that far but enjoy using cloth.   Growing up I didn’t want to be different from my peers in school so I did use tissues but hated how they felt.  When sick with a runny nose cloth is so much more gentle to the skin.


While I was given a package of men’s white handkerchiefs from a friend who didn’t want them (yes, they were a gift to them and still in the package) I offer the grandchildren pieces of old t-shirts to use.  They don’t even ask anymore just head to the rag basket to find a soft cloth to use when needed.  The turning point came when my granddaughter arrived crying that her nose hurt from running and she didn’t want to wipe it.  I promised her I had something that wouldn’t hurt her raw nose.  She agreed to try one of the rags and never went back to paper.  I also put a dab of honey on her nose before she fell asleep to heal the skin.  She woke in the morning, leaped into my arms to thank me because her nose no longer hurt.

With a full basket of rags I have no need for paper towels.  I have even stopped buying dishcloths as my old ones wear out. I simply replaced them with fabric from the rag pile. Works well for me.


As for other paper products, most weren’t very hard once I gave it a bit of thought.  Any notes I need to keep I store in my phone on an app called OneNote.   Instead of printing things from the computer to share I put them on a thumb drive or email them to the person.  My son does this regularly with his stories. He brings his thumb drive to me which I then copy to my computer to edit and publish.


A big way to reduce paper is by cutting down on mail.  I have only two bills a month; rent and internet.  These I pay in person with cash. If I pay a month ahead on my internet I receive no bill in the mail.  If you can’t pay 2 months of a recurring bill you can add a few extra dollars each month until you have accumulated enough to represent a monthly payment.

I have no checks for my bank accounts and don’t use my debit card as they cost businesses money to accept. I do have a bank card because there are situations when it is needed.  An example of needing to use my bank card would be to purchase bus tickets for trips.  Since I need to make arrangements with the bus over the phone for a wheelchair pickup I must pay for the ticket at that time.


Paper can enter our lives in other ways as well.  One that comes to mind is through our purchase of books and magazines.  This was difficult for me for a while. If there is one thing I can spend money on it’s books. I adore books.  But in an effort to reduce both my footprint and my expenses I now use the library and/or purchase used books.  I keep very few books and pass on books when I finish with them or donate them to the library so others have an opportunity to use them.  It is a very rare thing when I buy a new book today, I’ve come a long way as I used to spend anywhere from $100 to $200 a month on books.

Magazines were a bit harder.  I have two magazines I enjoy. One is Yes! Magazine.  It’s full of wonderful stories and inspiration, the other is my habit of picking up cross stitch magazines when at the store (it helps that I am close to not needing to shop at the grocery store when I see these).   I canceled Yes! Magazine and now read their content online.  It’s not the same as curling up with their magazine for an afternoon but I feel better about it.  Cross stitch magazines I now only buy if there is a project I see that I could use for a gift.  But the gift has to be something I will give soon, not some day down the road.  I did see my favorite magazine now has a disc with all of their magazines from the very first one to present available and I am considering this option.

Inside of an oatmeal container became a Spiderman mask

Inside of an oatmeal container became a Spiderman mask

There’s one area that is hard. How do you raise children and allow them to be creative without paper?  This is where I have failed. I do have coloring books here for the children.  But while coloring books or coloring pages are an important skill that must be learned before school there are ways we have reduced relying on purchasing paper and books.  I’ve shown you the books I made the children from Kraft paper I saved from packaging found in boxes left for me to use in the garden.  Junk mail we find becomes art paper.  Blank envelopes are another source of art for children along with boxes you receive.  By offering lots of creative opportunities with various materials our reliance on paper is reduced.


fabric makes a great canvas for painting

Some of the materials we use here:

  • toilet rolls
  • leaves
  • sticks
  • rocks
  • paints ( I have plenty given to me for furniture)
  • Even old clothing is used as the canvas for art.
The inside of a box became a canvas for two pieces of art.

The inside of a box became a canvas for two pieces of art.

I also include the children in preparing meals, helping in the garden, talking walks, visiting the playgrounds and many other activities that reduce the reliance on store bought craft supplies.

Do you struggle with reducing paper products?

22 thoughts on “Change the World, Part 2

  1. I appreciate the lengths you go to to reduce your footprint. I’m not anywhere near as determined. I have made some progress in many areas by paying bills online and eliminating the paper bills. I only have one magazine that I still subscribe to for over 15 years and that’s the guideposts “Angels on Earth” bi-monthly and small. I always pass it on. I do buy others if they speak to me and some stay with me, others find new homes. Nothing goes to trash. Books I will always buy. I want to support our authors the best I can. I know you understand. I do pass on some books and read a great deal on my e-readers but I still wish there was a way to get junk mail to stop. I get all kinds of stuff that the mailman wishes we could stop. Thank Goodness Portland recycles. We are all trying to do better a bit at a time.. BTW, your son’s book arrived today. :)


    • Marlene, wouldn’t it be nice if we could stop the junk mail? My understanding is the post office isn’t interested in stopping it as the junk mail provides them with their largest income stream.

      I do understand what you mean about supporting authors, I like to support authors and musicians. While I don’t buy CDs any longer I plan to join Raspody so I can legally download music I’d like to have.

      Don’t put down your efforts either, look how much you save by keeping your heat as low as you do.;-)


  2. I’m much less paper reliant than I was. My toilet paper is 100% recycled and I’ve cut down to one newspaper a week which I recycle or use in art projects at work or home. I have to admit though, that it’s just not the same for me, reading a book on a kindle or a magazine online. I love the feel of the paper and even the smell of it. You are much more self disciplined than me!


    • Jen, newspapers! I miss my newspaper. I grew up believing a paper was very important. My grandfather who struggled to read still sat down and read the paper every day. I had an entire routine built around my paper. I would wake, put on water for tea and grab the paper. Then I would take tea and paper and enjoy my quiet time. I’m not much of a morning person so this allowed me the time to fully wake up.

      Like you, I don’t enjoy ereaders or reading articles online so this has been the hardest thing for me to change. A book is much more than just its content. There is the weight, the smell, even the feel of the pages as I run my finger along the side of the book in a soothing way while reading.

      My library doesn’t carry many magazines that I would read, but I spotted customers of the local drug store who stand in the aisles and read articles from magazines without buying them so I have taken a page from them and now spend a little time browsing the magazines then put them back and head home. It’s funny what we miss the most when trying to do the right things. I don’t miss the fridge but reading material is a whole different thing.


  3. Again, Lois, I am completely awed by your lifestyle and all of the green choices you’ve made. Just awesome. I had not heard of Yes! magazine before, but it sounds right up my alley. I’m with you on the magazine front–I used to love curling up with a good magazine, fresh from the store. Now I get all of my magazines from the library, or online if they’re unavailable there. It’s cut down on all of the dusty stacks around the house, which is better for my asthma.

    I need to look into those thumb drives. I am soooo not techy, which always surprises my friends because I have a blog!


    • Joy, I am probably the least techy person around, but I have a son who still rolls his eyes at me as he walks me through something new. Thumb drives are very easy to use. Just open them up and look for a place on the computer that is made to accept it. I have 2 on the side of my notebook, desktop computers have them too (USB drive). Once you plug it in a box will pop up showing all your drives. The thumb drive will show up as drive D usually. From there you can retrieve anything on it, or save to that drive. Then simply unplug and store the drive until needed.

      I adored reading Yes! magazine. It is ad free and so full of information and stories it took me a few days to finish and it’s about all the things you care about. Until I canceled my subscription I would pass them around to friends, then finally donate it to the library to make myself feel better. I miss it enough that I have been trying to talk myself into another subscription telling myself I would be doing my community a favor by spreading the news and getting people to think about the things we need to change. I haven’t given in yet. :-)


  4. I love how creative you are with everything you have. I have been purchasing the large containers of oatmeal for some time now and it never entered my mind how to use the container by taking it apart and making something like a face mask.

    I love your outside of the box ideas on how to be more environmentally friendly. So glad I stopped by tonight to read this post!


    • Oatmeal containers are very useful. The mask was made from the cardboard lid which had the two holes ready to punch out. My grandson was here,who loves Spiderman and oatmeal, so it didn’t take a lot of thought to come up with a mask. Other ways I use oatmeal containers include storing my crushed egg shells for the garden and to hold birdseed I buy in bulk. I also learned one oatmeal container will hold 2 rolls of toilet paper. You could pretty up the container and store it right in the bathroom decoratively.


  5. Too much paper here also, but we’re working on it such as paying all of our bills online and using almost exclusively email for communication. However sometimes there’s nothing like receiving a piece of personal snail mail. I try to send that out sometimes especially to my elderly friends.


    • Live and Learn, you brought up one I forgot. I will send a small card to my granddaughter from time to time. She will be 3 next month and not being close I like to remind her I love her. A phone call isn’t the same for one that young although we do Skype now and again so I can see her.


  6. I am basically paperless. My printer served as a resting place for Cloro when I was blogging, it hasn’t been turned on for three months. I would use recycled toilet paper, but the only one here rips when you wipe. So I normally use one piece and a quick wash under the shower. When I need to make notes, I have a Word page for that.



    • AV, recycled toilet paper is getting harder to find here instead of easier. There is only one brand left and that can be found at just one store. It is tissue paper thin, actually thinner than that. I couldn’t stand it, neither could my guests. I finally broke down and ordered a case through Amazon and love it.One case will last more than a year here so it was worth the investment to avoid running from one store to the next trying to find one that carried recycled paper.


  7. Your posts are always so thoughtfully written, I love them! I found this really interesting. We have way to much paper in our house, and my desk is covered in scrappy old receipts that I use to write on the back of – I can’t bring myself to recycle each one until it’s been completely covered in notes, but there’s always more than I can use. It’s definitely an area I need to work on.

    One thing I wanted to mention – you said that because you have paper for the grandkids it was one area where you’d failed. I don’t think you’ve failed at all. Bad choice of word! You’re simply chosen to make this area exempt for reasons that you consider to be important. That’s not failing at all : )


    • I guess you are right, I have made an exception for the grandchildren where paper is concerned. I do try to limit it by offering up junk mail and cardboard, things that would have been recycled, for art but yes, I do feel coloring books have their place in childhood development.

      I don’t have many receipts and the ones I do get come from places that use thermal paper which is coated with BPA. these can’t be recycled and I don’t want them sitting around the house for the children to touch anymore than I want to be touching them. They go straight into the trash.

      Do you have a phone with a note program? Maybe you could store your receipts for when you absolutely need to have a handwritten note but cut down on how many you have on the desk. A chalkboard is also good if you don’t need to take the note with you. You can also find recipes to make your own chalk.


      • Your post has definitely got me thinking about ways to reduce paper. Yes I do have a note function on my phone and that is a great idea! I always feel that if the shop prints a receipt I should take it as at least I’ll recycle it whereas they chuck it in the bin. But there’s also something to be said for not bringing unnecessary stuff into the home. As I sit amongst a pile of old receipts which now need to be sorted and discarded (so creating extra work) I’m seeing that your method would be far better for me!

        A chalk board is something I’ve been intending to make for a long time. Possibly years. Or a cork board. One day…


        • I like the keeping notes in my phone it makes it easier to find by giving each a title. I hope you don’t try to recycle the thermal receipts (the ones that feel silky to the touch, as they can’t be recycled. I’m still having a hard time in not having receipts printed, most don’t have an option on their register to do so.


  8. Thank you Lois. It is interesting for sure, how you accomplish many things.

    One thing I have decided, myself, is I will change (for the worse) something I have been doing. For quite a few years now, I have had a digital camera, and all pics went on the laptop. After several cases of the laptop dying, and losing all pics, I have decided I will print out some of the best pics, to make sure they are saved. (yes I know a step in the wrong direction, sigh)…I know I can also copy them to something else, but still, am thinking I will start printing more of them (not all).


    • Lynn, I lost pictures myself when I lost my last computer. My son suggested I back them up on the cloud but I don’t want to use the cloud so I’m backing them up on a thumb drive. Our computers are wonderful but we do need back ups of important things like pictures and we each need to figure out what works for our own situation.


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