I keep wondering when our lives became drowned in paper, but there it is.

We were lulled into a false security with the explosion of emails – at my office alone, we produced 40 to 45 lbs. of paper per month. Serial offenders printed electronic correspondence thoughtlessly. If we buy one donut, a single receipt is handed to us and we file it away without pondering the impact. Did you know?  Receipts grow exponentially. Just check your purse or wallet for the evidence.

Please assure me a tech genius is working on a retail card that is scanned with our email addresses and receipts travel via wire or satellite to land beautifully in our inboxes. There’s already paperless tax software out there and it’s so much better for the environment, too.

You can imagine my weariness at tackling 7+ years worth of paper. Oh, cherished parchment what to do with you?

SHRED IT

This seems wasteful, but to prevent theft identity, always shred vital papers such as old paystubs, credit card bills, or unusable cheques. I use to equate shredding with scandals like Enron, but no more.  Personal home shredders are as low as $50, so there’s no excuse not to take care of business.

RECYCLE IT

Any paper you aren’t shredding should be recycled. I throw in envelopes, flyers, marketing literature, grocery lists, or newspapers. Some municipal recycling programs pick up at your doorstep or there are communal bins at designated locations.

STATIONARY

My old fashioned ways force me  to hoard stationary. Oui, ironic since I’m the one lecturing Ms. Grundy style about printing emails. I shall defend this pastime in the future, for now let’s suppose during purging you find a stack of unblemished Christmas cards that you picked up from the $2.99 rack truly believing you would pen touching poems to loved ones. Harsh reality prevails, what you discover is a wad of empty envelopes, stacks and stacks of blank paper, craft supplies, and a fast approaching migraine.

Donate to Children

If you have craft supplies – glue sticks, construction paper, and the like donating them to an elementary school might make a kid’s day. With school boards slashing budgets, this kind of gesture allows you to contribute directly to the community. Check your area for a suitable elementary school or post a craigslist ad, an eager elementary school teacher will respond. Trust me.

Other ideas or organizations to explore:

Charity guide on type of materials to donate.

Adopt-A-Classroom – Support a specific teacher and their classroom. Search for a local school through the classroom locator. There’s also a link for international schools.

Donate to Urban Source

Urban Source conjures an era when any object was re-imagined because hey, this is the best we’ve got, let’s make do. You can not only take all your forgotten stationary to them, but they also accept ANYTHING. A hodge podge of stickers, strips of film, random puzzle pieces, bits of wrapping paper. Once you donate items, the store then re-sells the materials to budding crafters and artists. I love this store for their belief system. The magical sparkle dust are the creations dreamed up from something as ordinary as a handful of buttons and a Chinese take-out box. www.urbansource.bc.ca. 3126 Main Street, Vancouver, 604-875-1611.

Donate to a Non-Profit

Unlike private corporations, non-profits run lean, often relying on the kindness of strangers. Choose a non-profit that supports charities, and don’t discount anything that could be useful to them. Besides envelopes or notebooks, how about file folders, report binding materials, or postage stamps? Stuck in the cube? Start an office donation drive at work. What I adore about this process is seeing the results of a direct transaction between you and the non-profit. It literally restores my faith in goodness. Isn’t it time you restored yours?