Modems, Not Memos

Earth Day tip: Conduct a paper chase.

Whatever happened to the “paperless society”?

It’s buried under a ton of paper, says Bob Lilienfeld, editor of the Use Less Stuff Report, a bimonthly newsletter. “Even though we now recycle more paper than anything else, we use so much more, we are barely breaking even,” he said, noting that with the help of computer printers, copiers and fax machines, along with retail catalogs and brochures, our commercial paper appetite increased 245% between 1960 and 1994.

His current ULS newsletter, printed on recycled and recyclable paper, lists tips for reducing, reusing and recycling your office and home paper glut.


To Reduce:

* Share electronic files, voicemail and e-mail with associates, rather than paper memos.

* Scan documents into the computer and transfer information by disk.

* Reduce fax traffic by switching to modems. Try to skip cover sheets when sending faxes.


* If your company has electronic funds transfer for payroll, sign up.

* Photocopy on both sides of the paper. Use the back of faxes.

* Order the direct mail reduction kit from the Direct Marketing Assn., (212) 768-7277.

To Reuse:


* Empty the paper shredder into a plastic bag and use the material for packing.

* When all the spaces are filled on interoffice mail envelopes, tape a blank piece of paper on and start fresh.

To Recycle:

* Provide incentive for using office recycling bins.


* Use scrap paper and paper clips rather than sticky notes.

* Use the cardboard back of tablets for file drawer dividers.

* Buy white paper or other light shades, which use less dye, making them easier to recycle.

To subscribe to Use Less Stuff (it’s free), write to Lilienfeld at P.O. Box 130116, Ann Arbor, MI 48113. Or you can e-mail a request for the electronic version at That saves paper.



The countdown to Earth Day in Life & Style:

Sunday: Become a citizen forester. TreePeople, the environmental group that plants and cares for L.A.'s urban forest, is recruiting volunteers.

Monday: Recycled products aren’t just paper goods anymore. New designers are using recycled materials for everything from playground equipment to apparel to office furniture.


Tuesday: The Center for a New American Dream says we can live more fulfilling lives while using fewer material resources.

Wednesday: What you can do. A personal action list not just for recycling, but to prevent waste in the first place.