<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 3: switching to recycled paper

Toilet paper roll

Credit: Emdot via Flickr

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How are you going on your challenge to really reduce the amount of paper you use? So far I’ve talked about how we can reduce the paper we use, and how we can replace some of it with reuseable items instead of one-off disposable paper products.

But of course there are some types of paper that are very difficult to do without. The reason we’ve come to rely on paper is it’s durability, it’s relative cheapness, and it’s ability to take all sorts of formats to be useful to us.

As an obvious example, you can’t just stop buying toilet paper without making other significant lifestyle changes - either you’ll have to get a bidet, or come up with a non-paper alternative (cloths? leaves? I've heard of people using corn cobs!). It’s been done before and done well, but it does require a lot of commitment.

And no matter how much effort you put into making your office paperless, there are always going to be special occasions where a report must be printed for distribution, or labels need to be attached to things.

But this is where all the effort you put into recycling your own paper products pays off. Many people happily put their own waste in for recycling, yet they forget that the point of this is to have products that are made from recycled materials.

So when you do need to buy a paper product, keep an eagle eye out for the recycled version. Back in the old days (well, the 80s), recycled paper was rough and brownish. These days, however, you can barely tell which is which unless you read the labels.

For the most eco-impact, make sure the recycled content is ‘post-consumer’. That means it came from the recycling bins of people like you and me. ‘Pre-consumer’ is your second choice. It comes from the offcuts of other paper products so the company doesn’t have to waste them.

I’ve been using recyled products for years and I’ve been really happy with them. If you haven’t given them a go before, now is a good chance to find out what your stores have on offer. As always, if they don’t have the eco-friendly product you want, write or ask to speak to the manager to politely request it. They don't know if you don't ask!