Stuck in Paper Purgatory?

NOW 2018 image

Welcome to Day 3 of little miss sorted’s 7 Day Sustainable Declutter Challenge:

Piles of Paper in the office

I’m a specialist in decluttering and organising offices. I could literally talk for hours on this topic and if you’ve been to one of my Organisation Workshops, you know what I mean! But just like the rest of this week, I want to focus on sustainable decluttering. So here are the scary facts:

  • A tonne of paper consumes approximately 20 full-grown trees and over 90,000 litres of precious water
  • Australians use an average of 230kg of paper per person, per year. If my math is right*, that’s 5.5 million tonnes and 110 million trees *GULP*
  • The average office worker bins around 50kg of paper every year; a staggering 10,000 sheets of A4
  • Australians send 1.9 million tonnes of paper to landfill each year and most of it could have been recycled. Newspaper is the most abundant paper waste, followed by cardboard and magazine/advertising material
  • The good news: Paper is the most common material in kerbside collections. Each tonne of paper that is recycled saves almost 13 trees, 2.5 barrels of oil, 4100 kWh of electricity, 4 cubic metres of landfill and 31,780 litres of water. (To put that in perspective, 17 trees can absorb the carbon dioxide emitted from your car each year)


Top Tips to sustainably declutter paper

  • The best way to make your paper easier to manage is to have and acquire less. Put a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your letterbox, cancel your phone book delivery, refuse the appointment card and enter important dates straight in your diary or electronic calendar, opt to receive your bills via email and think before you print
  • Make sure you read Monday’s post on sustainably dividing up your rubbish and ensure you have boxes or bins set up in your office ready to receive your outgoing paper. I’m always amazed at how few offices have rubbish and recycle bins or a shredder in them
  • Don’t double up (unless we’re talking printing on both sides of the paper). If you have the information stored electronically, do you really need to keep a hard-copy too?
  • Make paper earn its space in your house. Can you just keep the important page of a document rather than the whole thing? Warranties and manuals are a classic for being very thick booklets. But if you take a peep, often only a few pages are in English – the rest is just the same instructions reprinted in various languages!  And if you’ve already put your new food processor together and know how to operate it, do you really need to keep the instructions?
  • Newspaper can be used for cleaning windows & mirrors, packing, to line pet cages or dropped off at your local animal shelter. Otherwise, compost or recycle it


Top Tips to organise your paper

  • Establish a clear system to ensure paperwork flows. (This also works for digital files and emails). I work on a 5 step system:
    1. Inbox
    2. Action
    3. Reference
    4. Archive
    5. Out
  • Consider using folders rather than a filing cabinet. Filing cabinets are too big for most people’s humble needs in a household setting – you’re not the National Archives! Our human nature tends to be to file everything and fill whatever space we have so folders force us to be more mindful about what we really need to keep and file because space is limited. Filing cabinets make it too easy, so everything stays. And you’ll probably never look at 80% of it again anyway
  • Don’t over-think your system. Fewer, broad categories are much simpler to set up and maintain than lots of categories within categories


Environmentally friendly resources when decluttering your office:



Used envelopes (stamps removed) & junk mail Recycle – even the ones with windows
Stamps A number of charities accept stamps as a way of raising funds. Check out the Givenow website to choose one you like
Sensitive documents Shred, then compost or utilise a secure shredding service
Computers – see websites for specifics of what is and isn’t accepted ERNi

Computerbank – also accepts old cords & cables

Drop Zone

 Old reading glasses Recycle for Sight

HCF Eye Care centres also accept donations on behalf of the Lions’ program

Books Brotherhood Books

or try BookCrossing to release your books into the wild!

Text books Progress Pikinini
Magazines Hairdressers, doctors’ waiting rooms and early childhood venues (for craft) are often happy to accept these. Otherwise, recycle
Old mobile phones & accessories Mobile Muster

They’re Calling on You

Old print cartridges Cartridges cannot be recycled in your kerbside recycling bin. Instead, they should be taken to Cartridges 4 Planet Ark collection partners
Other e-waste Tech Collect

Check your local council website for information specific to where you live

Excess stationery, e.g. writing materials, paper pads, notebooks, rulers, erasers, etc. Progress Pikinini

All these resources and more will be added to the little miss sorted Resources page on the website. We are constantly updating our Resources Lists so check back regularly.

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day so what better way to spend it than sorting out your wardrobe! Look out for lots of hints, tips and resources and remember you can drop your unwanted items from the list mentioned in my post on Sunday to me any day during National Organising Week. Tomorrow you will find me here:

Thu 8th March
Mums Supporting Families In Need (Warehouse)
2/7 Sir Laurence Drive, Seaford

Happy Sustainable Decluttering! The planet thanks you.

*Let me know if my math is right… post below!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: