Paperless in the City

I love technology. It makes my life easier. Almost everything I need (outside of the basics – food, water, shelter, etc.) is at the touch of a button on one little device that can fit in the palm of my hand. Having that level of accessibility and order in my life makes me giddy. Seriously, I’m smiling as I type this. But, there is one thing that brings me back to reality: paper.

Paper is the nemesis of technology. It’s old school, remedial, primitive, ancient, old news. I know, I know… paper’s not all bad. Birthday cards, kids artwork, a love letter, Grandma’s pie recipe and the like make the use of paper more than just a place to document ideas, feelings and history. I get that. This article isn’t about that kind of paper though;it’s about the boundless, mountainous piles of everyday paper that invades our homes, cars, offices, and yes ladies, our purses.

There are numerous ways to create a paperless home, but in the spirit of simplicity, here are two and a half things I’ve done so far to become paperless in the city:

1. Get rid of it.           Yes, this is the one that takes the most time and energy, but hey, it’s part of the process. I purged over a few months so it wouldn’t be so overwhelming. If you can do this in one sitting, fantastic! If not, set a reasonable completion date for finishing the task and work backwards. For example, if you want to be finished by the time the kids go back to school (let’s say Labor Day), that gives you about 9 weeks from today. Set a goal for each week, i.e. spend 7 hours a week, which equals 1 hour a day (30 minutes sorting, 30 minutes shredding) and stick to it. All papers that do not need to be shredded can be put in the recycling bin. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, right? Steady progress will keep you motivated and you will eventually kick paper clutter to the curb!

Extra credit: When new paper comes in, use this same process to keep your new system in place. Retention is far easier than having to start over. I speak from experience on this one. Oy.

1 ½. File electronically.          Create an electronic filing system by saving your documents on an external hard drive. Be sure to label the electronic files in a way that is easy to find when you need them later.  Consider renting a safe deposit box or purchasing a fire proof safe to keep important original documents such as, birth certificates, social security cards, property deeds, etc., out of harm’s way.

Extra credit:  Save your music, pictures, and movies on the external hard drive too. Talk about a one-and-done clutter solution!

Note: This is my ½ step because I haven’t gone electronic yet. I have everything ready to go, but need to purchase a new computer and an external hard drive. This will be done by the end of year though! Hold me to it. *wink*

2. Turn your kitchen into a paperless haven.         Going green and reducing paper in the kitchen goes hand-in-hand. Paper napkins and paper towels can be replaced with cloth, which is more durable, not to mention resusable and sustainable. Cook books can also be replaced with online recipes . I cut out paper cold turkey and have switched to using old cloth towels and online recipes for a while now. These are great options because you’ll save money (no more paper towels and napkins to buy), save space (free up space the paper towels/napkins and cook books were taking), as well as help the environment. Can’t get greener than that!

I’m still finding ways to become paperless, but these two changes have gotten us off to a great start. Are you on your journey to become paperless in the city too? Share your tips in the comments below!

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