For a “paperless society”, we sure manage to generate a lot of paper. I’ve been making an effort to recycle as much as possible for the last year or so, especially paper, and it’s amazing how quickly that recycle bin fills up! Here’s how I handle incoming paper:
Deal with incoming paper – mail, flyers, magazines, newspapers, papers from work or school – right away
As often as possible, sort paper right away into shred, recycle, keep, to-do, and so on. Open mail and discard the envelopes and any other pieces you don’t need. Then put them where they go, right away! Trash in the trash, shredding in its container, recycling in the recycle bin, bills to pay on the desk, magazines in their spot, etc. Be realistic about what you’re really going to look at. It’s ok to recycle the catalogs that you don’t like and will never buy anything from, or the complimentary issue of a magazine that you’re never going to read. (Better yet – if you want to get fewer catalogs in the first place, use a service like Catalog Choice, or opt out of mailings through the Direct Marketing Association.)
If you can’t open and sort the mail immediately, use an inbox so it doesn’t get scattered. This can be a box, tray, basket, tub, drawer, or whatever else works. Don’t make it too big, or paper will pile up. When the inbox is full, you have to deal with it.
Keep containers in convenient places
I have a basket for paper recycling by my desk, so as I pay bills or handle items in my inbox, I can recycle them immediately. Keep a container handy wherever you frequently sort papers.
Don’t make it too complicated
Containers don’t have to be fancy, so if you don’t have a basket or inbox, don’t let that hold you back. A plastic grocery bag hanging from a hook or door handle can be a “recycle bin”. Reusable fabric grocery bags are a little sturdier, and more attractive. If you have a few of these around your house, put them to use!