Saturday, April 4, 2009

What are your Tips and Tricks? Mine? No Paper for a Month!

I have been testing myself this month! I wanted to know if I could go a whole month without buying computer paper. I ran out in February, and just kept putting off buying paper.

And, then I started thinking...can I go all of March without buying paper?

For me, I use my printer for a few standard things. I print my Grocery Game lists every week, coupons, rebate forms, map quest directions once in a great while and very little else.

I do print photos once in a while, but that is done on photo paper ( which I still have on stock ).

So, how have I been able to get by with no paper?

I have reused every scrap of 8X11 paper that has come thru my home. And, wow, were my eyes opened to how many pieces of paper I was wasting previously, even if recycled.

Basically, I have a stack of paper in my printer right now, and only one side of ALL the paper is blank. It all has something on the other side, but I am using the blank side for my printing purposes. And, to top it off, it is a colorful array of paper. From purple, red and yellow to plain ol' white. It is like a beautiful rainbow array of free paper!

So, where all have I found scrap paper to use once I started paying attention?

  • My children's backpacks are FULL of paper every night when they come home from school. I had the PTO Newsletter and the school Newsletters this week. They were both stapled packets, but I took the staples out and the very last page of the newsletter had a blank sheet left on the back. I entered all important dates and information on my calendars then reused the paper
  • My children's school work gets reused. Yes, it is true, I don't keep EVERY piece of paper. My eldest 1st grader brought his math work home from school the one evening and there were about 7 sheets of math problems. All of it was only on one side of each sheet. I had him pick one page he wanted to keep and the rest got put into my printer.
  • We have been getting flyers on our mailbox for Easter Egg hunts, etc. I mark the dates down and reuse the other side of the paper
  • Fidelity sent some of paperwork this week, and it had a sheet of blank paper in the front of the envelope ( I assume to block visibility of account numbers thru the envelope ). Reused!
  • Junk mail asking me to sign up for credit cards, refinancing, etc. If there is a blank side to any of the sheets, I reused the paper.

These are just a few examples of where my abundance of paper came from in March. And, my stockpile slowly grew. My printer is literally overflowing with free paper now! I am so excited.

I think I will buy a ream of paper now and keep it on hand for when I may need to write a professional or important letter and I don't want my sons drawings on the back. But, in the meantime I am excited to begin saving money on paper, reusing paper and then recycling. I literally think I could get thru the whole year without buying paper at this rate.

So, tell me, what do you do that saves money at home? Do you have a secret way of reusing products that flow through your home?

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Jen said...

Thanks for your great post! Who knew you could use scrap paper, back sides of paper? Not me. I have just been using--and wasting--regular old sheets of white paper. Doesn't this make so much sense--and such a savings! My kids don't like to draw on the back of their paper. I'm going to start collecting my paper from around the house today! Thanks for the great idea! Do you ever use paper that's not 8x11? I guess I might try this too. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I have been doing this for awhile too though mostly I use use the scraps leftover from coupon clipping to write notes and stuff on. I have been getting paper so cheap since I started couponing I kind of struggle with re-using the whole sheets for printing. I haven't paid more than $1 a ream since June 08. I know it's better for the earth tho so I should start. I work at a school to so I could get TONS of scraps.

Business Mommy said...

Actually, it's not good for your printer to reuse paper like that. With as cheap as some printers are these days, it doesn't always matter. But if you have a nice printer you want to keep, I don't recommend using this method. Same thing with refilling ink cartridges. Very bad for the printer. I have computer professionals in the family, and both of these things are big no-nos. It bites. I ask them again about every six months to see if they'll change their mind, but nope. It just flat out isn't good for the printer.

One exception is that if you want to reuse blank sheets of "printer" paper, then save it in a stack and let it sit for a few months before you cycle it back through your printer. That way the paper will have regained the moisture taken out of it by being run through the printer the first time.

Sorry to be a bummer. LOL. But it's better to find other ways to reuse those blank sheets rather than running them through your printer.

Sariah S. Wilson said...

Carrie, if you haven't seen it, Staples has reams of paper for $1 a ream after rebates. I just went to the Mason Staples and picked up ten of them. Just an FYI so that you don't miss out on that deal. :)

Camille said...

I keep all the blank return envelopes that come in the mail with bills and use them when I need to mail something out. We pay all our bills on-line so I don't need the envelopes for that purpose (I prefer to get paper bills -- easier than trying to remember all those passwords and usernames!). I either put a label over the window or put a piece of paper with the address in there.

(We recycle paper through as well and have been for 5 years on the same printer. Our printer still works perfectly. Not saying the advice above isn't correct, but I haven't seen any loss of quality of print at all.)

Business Mommy said...

One thing that I do to save on all of my printing is to change the print settings to "fast" quality. It prints faster, and uses less ink. So far I've not had any problems with bar codes either. I had been worried that with the poor print quality that bar codes might not scan. So far so good.

Carrie @ said...

Thanks for all the helpful posts above. So, informative.

And, thanks to Business Mommy for the advice about reprinting.

I actually,personally, have two printers. And the one I use is one I got free after rebate ( of course ). So, I am personally not so concerned if it ever stops working at top quality.

But, that is definitely good to know for others and for my "better" printer that I use for photos,etc.


I saw that deal posted...but when I tried to go to Staples rebate center, I couldn't find the actual rebate. Is it still out there? If so, can you copy the rebate link here for me so I can find it. I must be searching the wrong spot.

CMamaFishy said...

Great post!! I like to find ways to reuse soda bottles/water bottles. A few ideas are as bird feeders, and to make mini greenhouses to start seeds!

Flores Fam said...

I call manufacturers/stores/restaurants if I am unhappy with their product and/or if I have a bad experience. These 3-5 minutes of my time have saved me hundreds of dollars. Just this week I saved $3.00 because I called Ziploc to report a batch of bags I bought that were defective and $5 from Panera for taking their customer survey and writing my comment about how my order was filled incorrectly. They sent me a gift card for my time and this is NOT the first time I have gotten one. One was $10!
It pays to call, at the very least you will get a coupon for their product/restaurant. The best is a full replacement and/or a coupon for a brand new one. I have even gotten a Huggies $20 coupon for a new box of diapers after one of my diapers in the package had the tabs on wrong. So worth my time!!!

Sariah S. Wilson said...

I found out about this deal over at Southern Savers (here's the link:

She has a link in the post along with the SKU number so that you can search for it.

The rebate also printed out when I bought the paper. Staples also does a reward program where you get 10% back on paper and ink purchases. You can also use competitor coupons to save more on your deal. This was a moneymaker for me.

There's also no limit - some people have reported buying out the store's entire inventory! LOL

Mark and Emma said...

What a GREAT idea! Great post!

Stephanie said...

I did try to find the paper at Staples this week but my two local stores were sold out. I do reuse paper for printing coupons. I always reuse the paper that comes from my daughters preschool, etc. Also, I don't 'print' directions off the computer anymore. I've gone back to handwriting them so I can save a bit of toner and paper. Some of that is because it was such a pain to change the toner last time:) Definitely not buying this printer again.

A Frugal Friend said...

I've been using all the junk paper that comes in the house for a few months now.....I may rarely have to ever buy paper again. Great post.

Christina said...

I don't buy garbage bags for our little bathroom trash can....instead I use grocery bags. Free and reused!

Shelby, Patrick and Kids said...

I also use the paper from school - it amazes me how much comes home every day. I only use the new paper for important items and the scrap for everything else. Great post! said...

Great post! I am cringing thinking of all the paper I throw away that will now be re-used! Excellent tip!

Nicole said...

Great tip! I will be paying more attention to what paper I can reuse instead of sending it straight to the recycle bin.

Michelle said...

I save all envelopes that come in the house. The ones that cannot be reused as an envelope I stick in my coupon binder. We have a white board on the 'fridge for the'we're out of...' list. When making my shopping list to take to the store I reuse one of the envelopes in the binder and put coupons I know I'll use inside.

Nichole said...

It's funny that you should post about this because I have been doing the same thing all month. I asked my husband to bring me home some of the paper that he bought for his office and of course it has been about four weeks and he has yet to remember. It has been great to re-evaluate the necessities a little :)

Evelyn said...

Have you had any problems with the coupons you print having writing on the back of them?

Carrie @ said...


Not yet. No one has ever said anything.

But, in all honesty, my stores have never been ones to really dispute coupons or anything.

Sharlotte said...

I have started printing all my target coupons at the store the last few month and now I have a ton of the blue paper from their printers so I have been using that for some time with no issues.