Eliminate the Excessive Use of Paper
In Singapore, paper is one of the most common type of waste and about 1.26 million tonnes of paper waste was generated in 2013. We need to eliminate the excessive use of paper and try to reduce paper waste where possible.
Cutting down on our use of paper will lead to a smaller environmental impact from paper production, such as less energy and water consumption, less pollution, and less destruction of forests and their biodiversity.
There are many ways to reduce the use of paper in the office and at home. Here’s a few examples:
- Avoid Printing Emails and Web Pages
- Use Email Instead of Fax
- Print and Photocopy on Both Sides of the Paper
- Switch to Electronic Invoicing
- Reuse Old Envelopes for Internal Mail
- Go Paperless with Electronic Bills and Statements
- Avoid Printing ATM Receipts
- Reduce Junk Mail
- Submit Your Annual Income Tax Return Online
- Use Cloth for Cleaning Instead of Paper Towels
- Read Newspapers and Magazines Online
1. Avoid Printing Emails and Web Pages
Avoid printing emails and web pages unnecessarily. Instead, archive your emails and bookmark your web pages for easy reference. If you need to print web pages often, you can adjust your page and printer settings to minimise the number of pages before printing, for example, reducing the margins for your page or printing 2 pages on a piece of paper. You can also explore the use of software such as GreenPrint to reduce the printing of unwanted pages and images.
Have you come across an email signature with a tree logo and the words “Please consider the environment before printing this email”? This is a good way to remind the email recipient to think first before printing. Learn more about this signature and how to add it to your email.
2. Use Email Instead of Fax
Use email instead of fax for sending documents. Just attach the document as a word or pdf file in your email. Or you can scan the document and attach it in your email. If you really need to use the fax, avoid using a cover page.
3. Print and Photocopy on Both Sides of the Paper
Change the setting of your printer or photocopier to allow double-sided printing or photocopying. If you have unused paper that is printed only on one side, you can also use the manual feed to print and copy on the empty side.
4. Switch to Electronic Invoicing
By switching to electronic invoicing, your company can reduce paper invoices, envelopes, postage and cut costs. The government has also introduced electronic invoicing, and suppliers billing the ministries, statutory boards and schools are required to submit invoices electronically via the Vendors@Gov portal.
5. Reuse Old Envelopes for Internal Mail
Used envelopes in good condition can be reused again for internal mail. Just strike off the old address and write down the new address of the receiving department in your company or organisation.
6. Go Paperless with Electronic Bills and Statements
We receive phone bills, bank and credit card statements, and other utilities or government agencies’ statements every month or on a regular basis through the mail. These envelopes, paper bills and statements often end up in the recycling bins or simply thrown away. To prevent the paper waste from being created in the first place, we should aim to reduce the amount of paper used for the bills, statements and envelopes.
The best way would be to opt for electronic bills and statements instead of receiving the paper copies through the mail. Check with your current companies and organisations on whether they provide such electronic services. Sign up for those services or feedback to them if they don’t.
7. Avoid Printing ATM Receipts
The printing of ATM receipts not only wasting paper but also creating a litter problem. There are over 1,400 ATM locations provided by the three local banks (DBS/POSB, UOB and OCBC). If there are two people printing receipts from each ATM machine daily, we would end up with more than one million paper receipts annually. And this is not taking into account the fact that there can be more than one ATM machine at each location and that there are other banks with ATM machines. Imagine the paper wasted if we take all these into account.
In addition, the receipts are often found as litter around the ATM machines. So choose not to print receipts and check your bank account online or update your bank book regularly to ensure that there is no discrepancy.
8. Reduce Junk Mail
To prevent receiving junk mail through your letterbox, you can use the anti-junk mail catch on your letterbox that shuts the opening.
For the unaddressed advertising mail delivered by SingPost, you receive them in your letterbox whether you use the anti-junk mail catch or not. If you wish to stop receiving this advertising mail, SingPost provides an opt-out service for residents who do not wish to receive them.
9. Submit Your Annual Income Tax Return Online
Every year before 15 April, we have to submit our Income Tax return to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). You can choose to use e-Filing via internet or phone instead of receiving paper tax forms. This e-Filing service is easy, fast, free and helps to save paper and envelopes.
10. Use Cloth for Cleaning Instead of Paper Towels
Use a cloth rag or your old clothing for cleaning purposes. It can be reused and helps reduce the need to buy and use disposable paper towels.
You can also try using a microfibre cloth instead of using tissue paper or paper towels for cleaning sensitive surfaces such as television, handphone and computer screens, spectacles and mirrors. You can reduce the need to use disposable paper since the cloth can be washed and reused many times. The microfibre cloth also does not scratch the surface and can remove dirt easily, thus reducing the need for water and chemical cleaners.
11. Read Newspapers and Magazines Online
Some newspapers and magazines are available online for reading and there is no need to buy or subscribe to printed copies. The online newspapers and magazines are usually free but some requires a subscription fee. Reading online helps you save paper and money too.