<a href="http://www.greenlifestylemag.com.au/blogs/julie#">Green challenges</a>

Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

Step 1: ditching the disposable paper

Waste-paper truck

A waste-paper collection truck

Credit: ŠJů via Wikimedia Commons

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One of the main ways in which paper gets used is for disposable things that get used once and thrown away. Paper doesn’t cost much money, so we don’t think it’s wasteful to throw so much of it out. And many people have the impression that disposable paper is more hygienic for some tasks, even though hot water and soap are just as common as they’ve always been.

But when you think of deforestation and the chemicals that get used in paper production, it seems like it’d be worthwhile to see what we can do to stop throwing it out.

Over the next few days, keep an eye on the things you and your family are putting in the bin. What kind of paper products do you see in there?

I’m not suggesting that you save up your bin bags for a week, the way No Impact Man did when he wanted to see what kinds of things he was throwing away! But just take a look once a day or when you take the rubbish out on bin night.

I’m guessing there might be paper towels, tissues, butcher’s paper, sticky notes, bills (hopefully after you’ve paid them!), cosmetic wipes, and so on. If you think about it, there are lots of ways to replace these with re-usable versions.

If you're an old hand at the G Challenge, you've already got a reuseable cup or mug so you don't end up with a paper or styrofoam one when you get takeaway coffee - if not, it's a great place to start!

Tissues can be replaced with hankies - although they’re not as easy to find in the shops as they used to be. You’ll want the softest ones you can find, and plenty of them so you can pop them in the wash every day. I find them easier on my nose, and less rough than paper, during cold and flu season.

Sticky notes and notebooks can also be replaced. Consider getting a whiteboard your family can use for years to leave each other reminders and notes. I also use my phone for notes to myself, which has the bonus of letting me set alarms for anything I need to remember.

You can easily do without bills by switching to online billing, which we’ve covered in an earlier challenge. Wipes of any sort, including paper towels, can be replaced with a good old-fashioned flannel or sponge, and can go in the wash regularly like your tissues.

If you put your mind to it, I bet you can find replacements for all your disposable paper types. Later on we’ll take a look at the types that you can’t avoid, and see what we can do about those.