Each year there seems to be a trend or fad that changes the way we live for short while, but fades away in time. One trend that is still not only going strong but is increasing in popularity and ease is creating a paperless household. This trend is more than a fad but is a life choice to reduce the amount of waste and help sustain the environment’s resources. For those who still haven’t made the decision to go paperless or just don’t know how to eliminate paper completely, here are a few methods to help you along.
Many companies are going paperless, which is also helping households to eliminate the amount of mail they receive. Banks, insurance companies, and even employers are choosing to use email rather than the post office to alert their customers and employees of changes, tasks that need to be completed, and payments that are due. If you are still receiving mail from your bank, car insurance company, or employer, you should look into their paperless options.
Each week you may receive coupons in the mail that, in many cases, never get used. This is often due to your name being found on a mailing list. If you read fine print of these coupons, they often offer a way to contact the coupon distributor and remove yourself from their mailing lists. Many coupon shoppers have discovered the ease and convenience of using the internet and their smartphones for finding and using coupons digitally.
Eliminating Receipts and Purchase Records
Throughout the year, receipts and purchases seem to pile up. Keeping accurate records of purchases made throughout the year is not only responsible but highly suggested for when tax time comes around. Rather than keeping all of the receipts handed to your by the cashier, there are options for keeping these records for when you need them.
If you purchase a big ticket item and need to keep a record in case you need to return it, throwing away a receipt is not an option. However, you can scan and digitize receipts. Many stores will accept a copy of the receipt in place of the original receipt if a return or exchange is needed. Of course you will want to clear this with the store manager at the time of purchase before throwing away a receipt.
Personal Records and Secure Digital Storage
Many households that are attempting to go paperless often leave out personal records. This is mainly due to security risks and the fear of identity theft. Although this is a real risk, there are ways to protect yourself and feel confident that your personal information is secure.
There are many services available that offer personal record storage accessible by a username and password. This allows your personal information to be stored on their secure servers rather than keeping them on your computer. Some of these services offer a free option, with a monthly service charge for those users who need more storage space.
Cloud services are another option that allows personal users to upload and store files for a small monthly fee. This also creates a way to access these files from mobile devices or any computer with an internet connection. Not only will you be able to go paperless, but you will also be able to get to any document from anywhere you might be.
Other Methods of Eliminating Paper at Home
Aside from the need to digitally store receipts and personal records, there are day to day tasks that can most households use paper for and don’t need to. For many families, keeping a growing grocery list, leaving notes for family members or listing chores requires paper. This can be eliminated with a dry erase board that can be cleaned off and written on whenever needed.
If you are going to the store and need to take the list with you, your smartphone can be your shopping assistant. There are many apps available to create a shopping list and take it with you. Another option is to take a picture of the shopping list on your dry erase board with your phone and take it with you.
If you are the type of person who leaves instructions for your spouse every morning, try sending an audio message to their phone. Apps such as Evernote allow you to record a message and share it with others. You can even keep records of your notes on your PC and sync the notes created on your PC with your phone. If anything changes, your family members can see the changes through their Evernote app and stay updated.
Going paperless is more than a hobby; it is a life choice that allows you to do your part in preserving the environment. Take the time to determine which part of your everyday life can be digitized and eliminate the use of paper. Every step towards a paper free household is a step towards a greener earth.
Guest author David Hollingsworth is a software consultant who helps both individuals and businesses go paperless by using a number of tools including ways to do large file transfer, sync documents across devices, and create digital records of physical documents.