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Paperless Way of Life Made Simple


I have been going green for most of my life. Steps I take to gradually live a paperless life. I will add to the list periodically.

Image Credit: CC0 Licensed by Deb Bryan (Deborah "GypsyOwl" Bryan) for the Paperless Way of Life Made Simple! publication.

Image Credit: CC0 Licensed by Deb Bryan (Deborah "GypsyOwl" Bryan) for the Paperless Way of Life Made Simple! publication.

Simple Ways to Go Paperless Forever!

This article will give you ideas for going paperless at home, at the office, and everywhere in between. Ways to substitute traditional 'paper' products with sustainable items. How to recycle, reuse, and minimize your paper product consumption. How to lighten up your physical file storage by keeping only the essential and required physical documents.

Be sure to create a permanent digital record of everything before you shred it to recycle (and BACK IT UP). Be sure to discover how to recycle shredded paper to make beautiful homemade papers, paper mache' gifts items and home decor, and more.

Be sure to keep the most important papers (consult your attorney or tax adviser if you need professional guidance) and condense the rest. If digital records concern you be sure to make a backup of the data and keep it in a safe place.

Image Credit: CC0 Licensed for Deb Bryan (Deborah "GypsyOwl" Bryan) for this article.

What is in this article?

Simple Ways to Go Paperless Forever!

Moving Forward Paperless Notes

Why Rocketbook

Where to buy Rocketbook

Before You Go Paperless - There Are Some Legal Issues

The Equipment Needed

Shredder Cut Type Defined

Disposable vs Reusable LIST

Awards and Mission of This Page

Moving Forward Paperless Notes

Rocketbooks come in a variety of styles for taking notes, uploading to the cloud (with an app), and then wiping them off to reuse.

Rocketbooks come in a variety of styles for taking notes, uploading to the cloud (with an app), and then wiping them off to reuse.

Why Rocketbook

If you use a bullet journal, planner, notebook, or other tools and enjoy this process but are gradually green-minded and don't want to use paper, you can use a Reusable SmartBook. The Rocketbook is one of the options available to switch to a greener way while continuing to enjoy the process of writing everything out during the day.

Planners, Notebooks, Lists, and more!

If Rocketbook doesn't have the page layout you would like to have there are also some options for customization. Which is where the Community and Support come in handy. The developers are listening and updating, but, in the meantime, there are User groups from various fields (students, teachers, to name a couple) who create together.

Rocketbook (RB) has several styles to fit most needs.

The concept is to stop using paper. The process is to take your notes (planner, lined, dot, grid, matrix, etc) and then scan into the APP to upload to the destination you designate. Then wipe off the page and reuse it again, and again. The developer provides amazing support as well as User community, continuing development, and more! I've discovered some ideas about personalizing my Rocketbooks. And modifications so I can scan NON-Rocketbook notes and papers I need but would be ok in digital form.

One way to Reduce Paper around your home or office using RB App is:

1. Create a clear transparent sheet (vellum works great) with a dark frame around it (a permanent marker or black construction paper works well for example), You will need a barcode (print it out) or beacons (buy them or make them from ORANGE post-it notes cut in half).

2. Next: Put the notes you want to scan under the transparent sheet. Write your ##file-name## on the clear sheet.

3.Then scan to your chosen destination.

4. Lastly, erase the file name.

Repeat this for every paper (note, report, etc) that you would like to upload into the Rocketbook App. Recycle your scanned notes with a shredder, to use in compost - check materials in the paper for safety - crafts (that is where most of my shredded paper is going recently). Some of the modifications I have made: I accidentally used a permanent marker on a few pages of an Everlast Mini (a Rocketbook) and thought I was using the erasable pen that came with it. After many brainstorms, I decided to cover the side of 8 pages I ruined with a design (printed on lightweight photo paper and an inkjet printer). The next step is to identify the best adhesive to use to apply the design. The modified pages will become dividers in my mini (which also is getting a crocheted cover and binding - but that is also another topic). Message me if you would like updates about the crafty modifications or the adhesive update.

Decluttering Paper

Going paperless is an exceptional way to be free of clutter and to even be more organized. Yet, there are some legal considerations to check into before you begin.

For example:


Tax Record Retention Requirements are beyond the scope of this lens. Consult with your tax advisor to find out what records you need to keep and how long you need to keep them. The regulations tend to change depending on individual location and financial activities so be certain you ask a lot of questions before you destroy any financial documents.


Legal paperwork (marriage, birth, immunizations, health, etc.) may also need to be retained.


Be certain that what you want to shred and recycle is not something that you will need to have physical records of. After you scan, file, and backup your papers, you can still read and print them out...but, any legal documentation may require originals.

That said...

The rest of it has a scanner waiting.

Scan Everything

By using a scanner and a software program such as Access, One Note, or even Excel...

Select A Software Program

Access, One Note, Excel, or any good filing system (you can even use folders on your hard drive if you want to manage them in a specific area).

Scan ----> Save to your system ---->

Shred Before You Recycle

Using a shredder after you have scanned your papers will allow the paper to be recycled without your information being shared.

There are paper crafters that would love to use your shredded materials to make crafts.

Perhaps you have some ideas yourself?

The Equipment Needed

To Scan

Scanners come in a variety of forms. There are apps, printers with scanners, portable scanners, and more. The item you select will depend on your needs.

Around the first time, I was scanning to reduce paper I had chosen a portable scanner. It was a Canon I believe. It has a memory card so anything that went through it was stored on the card. I selected that one because I wanted to help Mom with some things she wanted digital (to keep copies of photos for example).

Today I am using the deck on top of my Canon printer. This helps me to make better use of space (I can put several small items on one letter-size sheet for example). Today I am scanning to my Rocketbook App (which has several destinations set up so what I scan will go where I need it stored). I use Google Drive, Trello, and Dropbox as well as using two email addresses (so one of my routine reports is sent through the app directly to the person who needs it - fewer steps).

To Shred

Shredding your paper before recycling has several benefits. The first is the security of your personal information. Then there is the ease that it can be recycled by your local artists and craftspeople. Many communities have paper recycling centers that do not require shredding.

If you have a lot of paper that you are not concerned about personal information, you might check your local recycling center for information about how to prepare paper for recycling drop off or in larger communities pick up service may be available.

Shredder Cut Type Defined

Strips, Cross-Cut, Confetti, and Micro Shredders Defined

Shredders are used to cut a piece of paper.

Ranges of cuts can be as much as 3,770 bits per sheet. The mid-range shredder uses the cross-cut (aka confetti cut) type of shred, which cuts a piece of paper into 300 pieces. The "average" strip-cut shredder cuts a piece of paper into 34 strips which often allow for easier reassembly.

Choosing the type of shred cut should be based on security needs as well as the process you are using to recycle. In other words, how sensitive is the information on the paperwork you are shredding and where will the shredded paper be in the next stage after shredding.

Will your shredded paper be put into a dumpster or will it be placed into a supervised composting area? On the other hand, will your shredded paper be handed over to an outsourcing company that specializes in the disposal of sensitive documents?

Wikipedia says this about shredder cut types:

*Strip-cut shredders, the least secure, use rotating knives to cut narrow strips as long as the original sheet of paper. Such strips can be reassembled by a determined and patient investigator or adversary, as the product (the destroyed information) of this type of shredder is the least randomized. It also creates the highest volume of waste inasmuch as the chad has the largest surface area and is not compressed.

*Cross-cut or confetti-cut shredders use two contra-rotating drums to cut rectangular, parallelogram, or diamond-shaped (or lozenge) shreds.

*Particle-cut shredders create tiny square or circular pieces.

* Disintegrators and granulators repeatedly cut the paper at random until the particles are small enough to pass through a mesh.

* Hammermills pound the paper through a screen.

*Pierce and Tear Rotating blades pierce the paper and then tear it apart.

*Grinders A rotating shaft with cutting blades grinds the paper until it is small enough to fall through a screen.

The shredded remains of a National Lottery play slip.

There are numerous standards for the security levels of paper shredders, including:

DIN 32757 [6]

Level 1 = 12 mm strips

Level 2 = 6 mm strips

Level 3 = 2 mm strips (Confidential)

Level 4 = 2 x 15 mm particles (Commercially Sensitive)

Level 5 = 0.8 x 12 mm particles (Top Secret or Classified)

Level 6 = 0.8 x 4 mm particles (Top Secret or Classified) (unofficial extension of the DIN 32757-1 standard)

***end Wikipedia excerpt***

*Choose a shredder that meets your security needs as well as the process you are using to dispose of your documents.

Handmade Paper

I still remember a gift a friend gave me years ago.

She made a notecard (handmade paper recycled)and embedded flower seeds in it.

After I read it and enjoyed it a while, I planted it. Soon there were blooms in my yard to remind me of her again.

That is such a beautiful way to recycle.

When to use an Ecopaper

Ecopaper is often made from


Coffee Beans,

Lemons, and

Recycled Paper.


Now That You are Living the Paperless Life...

You have an option for all of your card stock, letters, journals, and so much more that uses sustainable materials by creating fibers of renewable resources.

There are also REUSABLE options such as the Rocketbook (erasable ink) scan to an app option.

About EcoPaper.com (the inspiration for this article's birth in 2008)

Regarding environmental degradation, the 20 century has been the worst in history. The effects are only comparable to the disaster that caused the extinction of dinosaurs. The causes are, amongst others, the industrial and technological progress, the exponential growth of the world population, lack of legislation, and commitment by individuals and institutions. It is expected that for the 21' st century, the world population will be eleven million people.

Globalization and the ever-growing demand for food have increased the impact of human activity on the environment. The impact on rivers, the land, seas, and forests and in all ecosystems in general, will be greater. It is important to remember that our planet is a very sensitive and vulnerable system and all that happens in one part of the world has a severe impact on another part.

Awareness of this situation should make us compromise in a personal way and induce us to shift away from consumption habits that affect the environment so strongly. If we all collaborate, we can implement a system of sustainable development which will allow us to inherit our children and grand-children the chance to a good quality life, with satisfaction no lesser that we have had.

We are obliged to at least allow future generations to enjoy rivers and seas that are clean, pure air, abundant forests, and the company of species that are in threat of extinction, such as whales, manatees, tigers, and parrots.

Traditional Paper Industry

The paper industry represents two percent of world commerce and the demand increases every day. Paper still is the main form of communication among people, especially in the education field. It also has an infinite number of industrial uses, amongst which we can mention those related to packing and health care.

The cellulose and paper industry uses around one-third of total production of wood and this proportion is increasing. Two-thirds of the fiber used to make paper come from virgin fiber and the rest comes from waste fibers. Between 5 and 10% of the derivatives of the cellulose is produced based on fibers that do not come from wood.

Amongst many environmental worries related to the manufacturing of traditional paper, we can mention:

  • Biodiversity loss
  • Replacement of natural or primary woods by tree plantations
  • The insufficient use of waste paper and fibers that do not come from wood
  • The domain of large scale mills that have a great political influence
  • The continuous use of chlorine as a bleach
  • Insufficient research regarding alternative technologies to produce paper in a cleaner way
  • High levels of paper use which are not sustainable, especially in rich countries
  • Systems of paper recollection and exports of the paper impact the way of living of paper collectors in poor countries
  • Excessive demand for transport in the commercial cycle of paper
  • The hidden subsidies that promote the use of wood fiber rather than alternative fibers.

Banana`s Agro-Industry

Bananas were probably the first fruit cultivated by man. Historically, it is registered before the Christian age. This plant is even cited in the Coran as the fruit of paradise, under the name Musa ParadisiacaÂ, which is the modern name for plantains. It was spread all over the world and brought to the occidental hemisphere in the XVI century by a Spanish monk.

Ready To Move On?


You have plenty of room cleared out and all the shredded paper is off to artists and crafters.

Lets make room in another area now.

Disposable vs Reusable LIST

We are a disposable consumerism generation

I have wondered... have you?

Why buy a paper towel that works like cloth, when you could buy cloth?

Paper towels, paper plates, paper cups, and numerous other disposable products are causing more clogging of the landfills and waterways than you can imagine.

Our grandmothers didn't have disposable paper towels or disposable diapers with plastic liners.

We can reduce waste by tons a day collectively by giving up one or two paper products at a time. Gradually or overnight, the primary focus is on progress.

Some additional everyday disposable items (paper and plastic) I have replaced with reusable alternatives are:

  • Coffee Filter (one filter has lasted about two years so far with light rinsing and occasional warm soap water wash with a soft brush),
  • Spice Jars (reusable glass jars made for spices, then buy recyclable biodegradable packaged spices or fresh spices),
  • Net Vegetable Bags (instead of using the plastic bags in the vegetable section at the store I have net bags. They are also great for storing in the refrigerator as they breathe),
  • Straws (stainless steep washable instead of paper or plastic disposable)

Leave a comment with your favorites! I will come back to add a few more. I know there are many I haven't listed yet. I will walk around my home and make a list so I don't forget to add them here.

If you use a shopping bag when you shop which material do you use?

If you like the tactile feel of pen to paper have you switched to a sustainable option?

Awards and Mission of This Page

Originally published on Squidoo 2008, this lens won a PURPLE STAR! Thank you for the nomination and award. I hope it will continue to assist readers as it lives and evolves on HubPages. In 2020 HubPages is reviewing for the possibility of Featuring this article. Thank YOU it is rewarding to know it has become a helpful resource!

I am still gradually going Green discovering new and reusable options to everyday life.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2008 Deb Bryan

Paperless Way of Life Made Simple Guestbook

Deb Bryan (author) from Chico California on January 09, 2013:

@SusanDeppner: Thank you, Susan! Awesome reminder. I'm going to copy this into the lens so it is easy to find for readers who are going paperless.

Susan Deppner from Arkansas USA on January 09, 2013:

Just a reminder if you do scan and save documents. Make SURE that you have an off-site backup for all the files on your computer. We use Carbonite, but there are others. When our house - and computers and external hard drive - burned, it was a very simple matter to recover computer files (including some personal documents) after we replaced the computers.

waqastariq on July 01, 2012:

Great share!

Jazroockfree on June 16, 2012:

Great lens!Thanks for sharing and information.

anonymous on March 17, 2012:

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Gayle from McLaughlin on February 04, 2012:

What a unique idea for an article. Very well-written and researched!

flicker lm on January 11, 2012:

Great informational lens! Never knew paper could be made from anything other than wood pulp!

Chazz from New York on November 03, 2011:

Great lens and so necessary to do. Blessings. This lens is now featured on "Wing-ing it on Squidoo," our tribute (charity) page to some of the best lenses we've found since donning our wings.

Sandra Wilson from Wilson Education Resource Centre on October 21, 2011:

good advice for people - I think giving them steps will make it easier for them to go green!

Nathalie Roy from France (Canadian expat) on October 20, 2011:

I do my best to avoid paper, but it's not easy. Coffee and mango "paper" seems like an interesting alternative. We don't use much paper in a year so even with a more expensive price it still would be ok.

GramaBarb from Vancouver on October 20, 2011:

Love this lens! We have a papershredder here at the nurses station that we can use at anytime for free.

anonymous on October 20, 2011:

Excellent tips and resources here!

Heather Burns from Wexford, Ireland on October 20, 2011:

Really awesome! I recycle paper as much as possible!

EMangl on October 20, 2011:

not easy to avoid paper - no matter that they talked already in the 80th about "paperless offices", postman brings daily lot of unnecessary things printed on paper which could have sent by email or fax ...

Joan4 on October 10, 2011:

I definitely need to improve on this paperless life - and your advice will be helpful as I move forward. Thank you!

e-xplorations on August 26, 2011:

Great lens. Your idea of a "Paperless Office" does makes a lot of sense. Its reduces administrative burdens and save trees at the same time.

Dawn Michael from Thousand Oaks on January 22, 2011:

wow your lens is beautiful! I am an organic woman all the way, and I do my best to grow my own food and buy organic and support the cause! The paper is lovely and you know what you are doing with your lens. I am a sexologist and even though many people don't know what that is, I support organic sexual health and I also sell organic products, so hats off to you!

Adriana from New Market on January 13, 2011:

Thanks for the ideas. I already started to scan many of the documents that can be stored electronically. I jsut need to get a better scanner (I have an ancient one :()

AuthorNormaBudden on January 09, 2011:

This is a beautiful lens with some original ideas, for me. I have never heard of paper being created from fruit; that's sensational!

Your purple star lenses have been featured at https://hubpages.com/community/purple-star-awards-

If you would like to see the other outstanding lensmasters featured throughout my series, please visit https://hubpages.com/community/purple-star-directo

rwoman on December 02, 2010:

A couple years ago I actually went paperless as a teacher which was a big deal considering the amount of paper that a writing classroom generates! It has also made my life a lot easier. I try not to gloat when I pass my colleagues (especially at this point in the semester) toting armloads of papers.

Lloyd Pinto from Mumbai on October 27, 2010:

Blessed by a Squid Angel

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on September 20, 2010:

I am in the process of cleaning out my office and can't believe the amount of paper I have accumulated. It's everywhere in stacks. I have got to take your advice and do some shredding. Thanks and Blessed.

Deb Bryan (author) from Chico California on September 12, 2010:

Hi Jacqueline, Thank You! Great suggestion about cross-cut shredding. The cross-cut shredder I have recommended (aka Confetti Cut ) reduces documents to 5/32" x 2" higher security confetti particles. Great for home use. For High Security I would suggest a second step to the process (composting for example). Your experience with the shredded paper recycling issue is a bit scary. I trust it was a lesson that prompted new policies throughout the business world.

anonymous on September 11, 2010:

You have great information here not only on how to go paper-less, but why. I strongly agree about shredding. It's best to use a cross-cut shredder. I once worked at a security company that was hired to repair the damage done when another business got shredded paper for use as package filler. The paper was all clients' personal financial records and you could still read all of it!

TopMovieSoundtr on February 10, 2010:

Very earth conscious. Hope to get there.

Joan4 on January 06, 2010:

Excellent! Super info! Right now I have about 8 hours of decluttering paper ahead of me! But I won't have that this next year if I am smart! Congratulations on that beautiful purple star! Sprinkled with a little angel dust, too!

anonymous on December 27, 2009:

Great lens, and congrats on the purple star, Deborah!

anonymous on December 27, 2009:

Congratulation on the purple star! It's a very interesting lens, I discoreved alternative to paper I didn't even know existed.

Cynthia Arre from Quezon City on December 21, 2009:

Hi Deborah, I found this lens very inspiring! There are a lot of useful tips in here that I would certainly follow to go the paperless route. EcoPaper's designs are really pretty -- that's such a creative way of reusing what could have easily gone to waste. (:

dc64 lm on March 30, 2009:

Very good information as well as ecologically important for us today. You've covered topics that I didn't think of or know of, such as making paper from produce. Cool!

mistyblue75605 lm on December 01, 2008:

Good eco lens!! 5*'s

Mortira on October 02, 2008:

I love the idea of a plantable card that grows flowers! What a great way to give green! Thank you for sharing all of these great paper alternatives! 5 stars and a lensroll!

AlisonMeacham on September 10, 2008:

I do think it is so important to take whatever steps we can towards a greener life.

You have been Blessed by a Squid Angel

Deb Bryan (author) from Chico California on September 06, 2008:

Ok.. What kind of paper sounds the most yummy? Banana paper or Coffee Bean paper!!! Wouldn't it be delightful to put your favorite banana bread recipe on banana card stock as a gift this year?

Or... make your own special flavored coffee and include the recipe on card stock made from coffee beans. :D

Another idea...

How about the Journals? We all love them and they make great gifts. There are Journals made from banana paper, coffee bean paper, and lemon as well. Yummy! Cheerful Lemon Paper for a Gratitude Journal!!!

Any other thoughts?

Tammy Winand from McleodGanj HP India on September 04, 2008:

paperless is great for the environment darlin' ...


let's just hope computer memory never gets totally corrupted or wiped out w/ an EMP!

Patricia on August 26, 2008:

Don't you just love the computer. Makes life easier, I think. Great lens! 5 *****

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