Monday, October 14, 2013

What to Do with Used Computer Paper? (a Writer's Dilemma)

So you've printed something (or a lot of somethings) off your computer, and now you don't need the something you printed anymore. What do you do with that paper?

Most of us would recycle it, and that's a good thing, but if you're a writer (or any person who prints a lot of stuff), you end up with a lot of paper going into the recycling bin. That always makes me feel a bit squeamish. After all, I'm still using up more than my fair share of trees.

So what are some ways you can make that paper do double duty or at least go farther/last longer?

You could print on both sides, thereby only using half as much paper. I do that sometimes, but it's more of a pain, since my printer requires me to flip the paper and put it back in the machine after the first pass. Plus, now and then when I'm editing, I need to scribble changes in red all the way to the back of the sheet, and it's a problem if there's printing on both sides.

You could print 2 pages to one sheet. I do that, too, especially when I'm printing something off the internet that I want to save (such as research material). Still, the print is smaller and it's more difficult to read, so I don't do that for everything.

(Baskets--these are from Dollar Tree--set around the house make handy places to stash recycled scratch paper)

You can even do both, printing both sides and printing 2 pages to a sheet. Big savings there, above, not always ideal.

No matter how careful I try to be about not printing too much (and I do print a lot less than I used to. I edit more on the computer), eventually I have to print the book out and edit on paper. There are mistakes I don't catch on a computer screen that I see when I'm reading from the printed page. So, I still end up with a big stack of paper. I keep a box in my office where I neatly stack all the used computer paper, and every time I pass by it, I feel a bit guilty.

Now and then, I pull a stack out of the box and crudely cut the sheets into 4 pieces. Those go into small baskets around the house to be used for scratch paper. It's a good way to make the paper last longer, but it doesn't really whittle down the pile as much as I'd like.

I once briefly thought about decorating the empty sides and using the resulting sheets as wrapping paper for small gifts, but the fact that the rough drafts of my books are on the other side gave me pause. That could prove embarrassing in some cases.

I could shred it and use it for packing in boxes. That might be useful sometimes, but it probably wouldn't use up a great deal of paper.

So, I continue on my quest to use up all the paper in the most productive way. My goal is to only throw 25% of what I use in the recycling bin. We'll see if I ever get there.

How do you manage your excess paper situation?


Laney4 said...

I used to rip it in half to use as a writing pad, but now that I have so much of it, I use the entire page. My to-do lists ... my daily journal (until it is rewritten chronologically into my datebook) ... grocery lists ... anything that is temporary, as I too have confidential information on the reverse that will need to be shredded once I'm done on the other side too.
Because I type reports for a living, and because, as you said above, "There are mistakes I don't catch on a computer screen that I see when I'm reading from the printed page", I have hundreds and hundreds of these extra sheets. Believe me: I know what you're going through.
SOME people would just shred the paper and use lovely store-bought books to write in instead. I am too cheap plus environmentally conscious to do so. It sure would clean up a big part of my office, though, if I just shredded the whole kit and caboodle, now that you have brought up the subject. Hmmmm, pause for thought.... (Bet you didn't expect me to go in the opposite direction, eh?)

Mary Preston said...

I rarely have to buy paper for anything. I use all the scrap paper for shopping lists & notes etc.

Myrna Mackenzie said...

Mary and Elaine, I suppose it's a good thing that we all seem to have an easy source of paper for lists and other temporary writing. That's good, right? I do feel nice reusing scrap paper for other purposes. I've brainstormed many a book on the back of old manuscript sheets.

Elaine, I've thought about shredding it all, too, but I'm already far behind on my regular shredding. I have a nice, heavy-duty shredder, but even so, you're only supposed to do ten minutes of shredding followed by 20 minutes of cooling down. Half the time, I get busy doing something else during the cool-down session and never get back to the shredding. Also, it's a diamond-cut shredder, so the pieces are tiny and messy, not those lovely long strips. Great for making sure the print can't be put back together again, but not so great for packing material. Sigh. Still, getting rid of all that paper in a day or so would be very nice. No more guilt...until I create a new stack of paper. LOL

Laney4 said...

I keep my shredder tucked in-between my recliner chair and end table in my living room. Nobody even sees it (probably because it's black and my chairs are hunter green). I keep a shredding pile nearby so that I can shred while I am fast-forwarding my tapes or a live show is on a commercial (that would be when my husband is watching tv, as I don't watch shows "live", except for sometimes the news). I also have a box with paper in it to recycle that doesn't require shredding (like blank envelopes and junk mail thrown in with the bills), located beside the shredder. As soon as the mail comes in, I sort it from that chair, so that shredding and recycling are done immediately, as I too realize that the shredders heat up after a couple of minutes or so, making shorter shredding times more frequent. (Hope that makes sense!)

Myrna Mackenzie said...

Elaine, it makes perfect sense. And the shredding sound handily blocks out the sounds of the commercials, i'll bet. LOL