If you’ve struggled with going paperless at home and you are looking for ways to ditch the paper and save money, then this post is for you!
If you hate doing dishes or laundry, prefer stickies to phone reminders and keep strictly organized paper files, then going paperless at home will require a lot of effort on your part.
But think about it this way. According to Waste-Free Mail, “Every year, Americans use more than 90 million short tons of paper and paperboard. That’s an average of 700 pounds of paper products per person each year.”
700 pounds! That means that a family of 4 people uses 1.4 TONS of paper each year. That number is astronomical.
Maybe it’s time to get right down to it and crunch the numbers so that you can see exactly how much money you can save by going paperless. You might be surprised what you learn!
First let’s talk about the elephant in the room: why go paperless in the first place? Although saving money by going paperless is a top contender, there are certainly more reasons than this to ditch the paper in your home.
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Why Go Paperless At Home?
There are three main reasons that many families are going paperless at home. By taking this step, you can save money, help the environment, and be more organized at home!
Going Paperless Saves Money
After reviewing all of the different paper products that have reusable replacements, you will find that you can save $120 to $225 per month by going paperless at home! That is no small savings when you’re on a tight budget. You’ll be saving an extra $1,440 to $2,700 every single year!
Going Paperless Saves The Environment
For the paper items that do not have a cheaper substitution, you can at least rest assured that you are helping the environment by eliminating paper waste. According to Wikipedia, “Pulp and paper mills contribute to air, water and land pollution and discarded paper and paperboard make up roughly 26% of solid municipal solid waste in landfill sites.”
Even if we cannot realistically eliminate every single scrap of paper from our households, we can still do our part and lower our usage where possible.
Going Paperless Is Organized
If you’re anything like me then you’ve found yourself hording stashes of newspapers, unopened mail and books among other things. Think of the space that could be freed after recycling as much paper as you can part with and by changing your purchasing habits going forward?
Going Paperless At Home
Let’s go through each of the main categories of paper products and talk about how much money you can save by eliminating each one in your home.
Paper Towels – Save $9 to $20 per month
If an average family uses 1.5 to 2 rolls of paper towels each week, then that equals between 78 to 104 rolls per year. Of course this number varies based on your household’s usage of paper towels. But it can really add up!
Cost of paper towels per year
Great Value paper towels cost $0.02 per sq. ft. while a better brand like Bounty costs $0.03 per sq. ft. That translates to a spending of between $1.40 to $2.37 per roll which is $2.10 to $4.74 per week or $109 to $246 per year based on the average family usage. In each family’s case it could be less or significantly more.
I don’t purchase paper towels on a regular basis, but I’ve noticed that when I do, they go quickly. Paper towels sure are convenient, but if you can get past the initial hump of going paperless at home, being without them becomes second nature.
Alternative to paper towels
An alternative to paper towels are Unpaper Towels. These are reusable cloths that are easy to grab, use and wash for reuse. You can also cut up old t-shirts into small squares and use them the same way.
Paper Plates, Cups and Napkins – Save $19 to $24 per month
Going paperless in the home may sound easy so far, but if you prefer to use paper plates, cups and napkins then here is where the problems start. If you use paper products for two meals per day (lunch and dinner) the amount of waste saved by going paperless will compile quickly.
Cost of paper plates, cups and napkins per year
For a family of four, that’s an average of 8 paper plates, 4 paper cups and 10 napkins per day. Add an additional spilled milk to some of those meals and the number of napkins spent skyrockets. Using Walmart prices for reference, you can expect to save $4.34 to 5.60 per week or $226 to $291 per year by going paperless in the home and eliminating paper plates, cups and napkins.
Alternative to paper plates, cups and napkins
It’s no secret that you likely already own all of the alternatives to paper plates, cups and napkins. If not, these are the essentials you’ll need!
Baby Wipes – Save $6 to $15 per month
One of those necessary but expensive items that families with young children use every day are baby wipes. From dirty bottoms to sticky noses, the baby wipes are an easy go-to paper product. With only one toddler in the house, I can honestly estimate 10 wipes used on a good day. It’s easy to see that number grow to 15 or more per day.
Cost of baby wipes
Depending on skin sensitivities, the cost of baby wipes varies from $0.02 to $0.05 per wipe when purchased in bulk. This means that if you buy one or two packs at a time as needed, then you are likely spending even more per wipe. The likely spend on baby wipes per child is $0.20 to $0.50 per day or $73 to $183 per year at an average use of 10 wipes per day.
Alternative to baby wipes
Washcloths are a great alternative to baby wipes. If you think about it, we clean a whole lot worse than dirty baby bums with our washcloths (think dirty adult bums). This is another scenario where you could also use old repurposed t-shirts or even torn spit cloths. Keep a sealed bag nearby to store dirty rags, then wash and repeat.
Disinfectant Wipes – Save $4 to 8 per month
If a family uses disinfectant wipes on a normal basis, then 3 to 5 wipes per day could be quickly and easily spent. As mom of a three year old in potty training, I could easily use 10 wipes per day without thinking twice. The savings here could get insane!
Cost of disinfectant wipes per year
Alternative to disinfectant wipes
An alternative to disinfectant wipes are Unpaper Towels paired with a DIY disinfectant spray. This is another scenario where old t-shirts or even overused washcloths could be repurposed as dedicated disinfectant rags.
Feminine Products – Save $10 per month
This one is not a joke! Although I have yet to brave this solution, going 99% paperless at home could even include replacing feminine products.
I personally believe that paper feminine products are a necessity. Choosing a cloth solution may only create a wash between money saved on paper and money spent on cloth. But for the avid environmentalist, going paperless at home is far more than saving money on paper.
Cost of feminine products per year
According to an experiment done by the Huffington Post, women spend an average of $58 per year on paper feminine products (panty liners and tampons). For a small family with a mother and one daughter, that is $116 per year. Add an additional $5 per month per daughter.
Alternative to paper feminine products
Thinx is a company that revolutionized feminine products and created reliable, reusable cloth solutions. As mentioned above, the actual money saved may net on the low side, but the idea of going paperless and eliminating waste presents a whole new kind of value.
Perhaps something reusable and more affordable like a Menstrual Cup could eliminate the need to purchase disposable feminine products on a monthly basis. Both the environment and your pocket book will thank you for choosing this option!
Tissues – Save $2 – $3 per month
If you have allergies in the home and need to use an exorbitant amount of tissues per day, then the savings by going paperless in the home by eliminating tissues could multiply. The average household uses about 2 boxes of tissues per month.
Cost of tissues
Tissues cost anywhere from $0.92 to $1.42 per box. This could equal as little as $0.46 per week or as much as $0.71 per week. Save an average of $22.08 to $34.08 per year by ditching tissues!
Alternative to tissues
The real question here is are the savings of not buying tissues worth the expense or daily struggle of using a replacement? You decide! Here are your options:
- toilet paper (yes it’s paper, but I find this one absolutely necessary in the home)
- air blow in the shower or the yard! (LOL)
Going Paperless at Home Saves Money
If you take a walk throughout your home, you will quickly find that it’s easy to use paper for everything. By going paperless at home, you can expect to save between $120 and $220 per month! You probably have more paper substitutes in your home than you may think. If not, it’s a minimal price to pay when you purchase alternatives that you can use over and over.
Miscellaneous Paper Products with affordable substitutes
- Coffee filters – save $0.25 per month
- Paper bills – save $5 per month
- Many companies offer discounts when you opt to receive paperless bills
- Paper money – save $40 – $100 per month
- Using a credit card for all of your reoccurring bills and expenses allows you to earn between 1% and 5% back! Read how I earned 3 free family vacations using a credit card without changing spending habits.
- Sunday Newspaper – save $20 per month
- Reading the news digitally could save you hundreds of dollars if you still purchase a daily newspaper.
- Magazines – save on average $1.65 per copy
- Notepads, notebooks, sticky notes, printer paper, index cards, stationary – save $1 to $5 per month
- Instead of using paper for household notes, try a DIY chalkboard or whiteboard. You can also utilize your smartphone or PC for taking notes.
- Books – $5 – $10 per month
- I realize that avid book readers cannot go without paperback books, but if you’re ready to go paperless in the home for organization purposes, perhaps those old books are taking up too much space.
- Instead of purchasing paperbacks, consider visiting your local library and purchasing, renting or borrowing online copies of your favorite books.
- Toilet Paper – Save TONS
- JUST KIDDING! This one is a necessity. If you have a bearable substitute, then share it in the comments! I can’t see myself going paperless in the home completely and eliminating toilet paper just yet.
If you don’t believe how much money you can save, start researching! An average family of four can really save between $120 to $225 per month by going paperless at home. You can also help the environment and be more organized at home by lessening or eliminating your daily use of paper products. Make sure to check out the paper product alternatives that you can reuse over and over to save thousands of dollars each year!