How to Reduce Your Paper Waste

How to Reduce Your Paper Waste | Rourke Planners

Today we're talking ways to reduce your paper waste, even though we love paper planners.

So here's the deal. I love my paper planners, to do lists, trackers, etc. I also love the environment and trees. This seems to be a point of contention. I do a lot in other aspects of my life to reduce my waste and work towards a more circular economy. (Right now I'm cleaning a ginormous batch of reused glassware). So I don't feel like I can't use a paper planner. But I know it CAN be wasteful, and I want to limit that as much as possible. So I'm going to share with you all the ways I've found to limit the amount of paper that goes in my bin.

PS the 16th is National Love a Tree Day! Spend this weekend doing some tree-hugging. 


First off, reduce your paper use. 

1 sign up for paperless billing, remove yourself from junkmail lists, and get rid of any magazines you don't need.

The first thing you can do is reduce the amount of paper that comes into your home. Going paperless for bills is more secure, and most places give you the option to do automatic payments so it's a win-win. Here are some tips on reducing your junk mail & removing yourself from lists. Finally, don't resubscribe to magazines you don't absolutely love. If you really love having a physical magazine, you can share a subscription with someone or purchase them at a second-hand store. You may also be able to find a digital option for your magazines. 

Once you're done with your magazines, you can donate them to thrift stores & hospitals (kids magazines can be donated to local schools) or sell a collection to a second-hand store like Half-Price Books.

My mom sends me her used HGTV & Better Homes & Gardens magazines, I read them & scan really good stuff, then donate them. 

2 only print what you need

One of the reasons I started my printable planner shop was because I wanted more than just a calendar, but I didn't know what pages I would and wouldn't use. Using printables means you only need to print what you need, instead of having tons of unfilled pages. You can also use a daily planner page only when you really need it for those crazy days.

3 go digital when you can

I'm always looking at new programs and apps that can help me be productive, and there are always new ones coming out. Even if you still need to use a paper planner, maybe you can use an app for grocery lists or your daily schedule. 


Second, reuse what you have to decrease your need to buy new things.

1 keep a scrap pile

I have a paper tray that I keep all my pieces of paper that can be reused. These scraps are perfect for lists and brainstorming. No point in buying ANOTHER list pad from the dollar section when you have enough paper to make 5 already at home. Is it always pretty? No. But you're using the paper as much as you can and saving money. Plus, you know what's pretty? Trees.

2 keep a box of planner accessories

I know I don't have to tell many planner lovers this, but keeping a box or file of planner accessories like dividers, dashboards, paper clips, etc. means you can mix-and-match old and new. 

3 get creative

If you're at all the creative type, you can reuse pretty things like notebook covers and ribbon scraps to be dashboards and tassels. If you like the look of it, keep it and have a crafting day. 


Finally, recycle what you can no longer use.

1 recycle used pages

This one is pretty obvious, but once you've used planner pages, you can recycle them. If you have a bound planner, take it apart and recycle the parts separately. If you're inclined, you can refill spiral/wire bound notebooks or planners as long as you have a punch for it. We Are Memory Keepers is coming out with a sa-weet punch board that can be switched between 6-hole, spiral bound, and disc bound. I'll be making some scrap paper notebooks in the future.

Your paper can most likely go in your normal recycling bin, but if you have any paper-specific drop-offs nearby, it's worth keeping a separate bin and bring it there once a month. 

2 buy 100% recycled paper

When you do buy paper, you can choose to purchase 100% recycled-content paper. Lots of brands have 100% recycled paper - Hammermill, Staples, Mohawk. Mohawk is a cool brand because they use windmill power to create all their paper. You can find a proper planner-quality, 28lb ream here. Or 32lb here. PS - Erin Condren used the Mohawk 32lb in their planners this year.

3 have a planner swap

OK so this isn't technically recycling, but it probably involves travelling so environmentally it goes in this level. If you have a few planner friends in the area you can set up a planner swap to trade planner accessories and organizers. You get some fun, new items and your old items go to a new home. We all have items we no longer wish to use or don't use that someone else would love - why not send them to a new home if you won't use it anyway?


What do you do to reduce paper waste (and waste in general) that comes about with paper planners? Leave your tips & tricks below!