A lot of the sheets of paper in your recycling bin have only been printed on one side. That means there's a whole big blank expanse of totally usable paper, and all you have to do to get at it is flip the sheet. It's so easy that it almost hurts not to do it. Sure, you might not want to use an already-printed sheet to, say, write a legal contract on, since it might feel funny to ask a notary to put an official stamp on something that has, say, the details of your office's potluck barbecue party location on the back, but there are plenty of ways to put that half-used paper to full use.
1. Make A Recycled Scratch Pad
You can collect printed sheets with one blank side into an eco-chic, and highly utilitarian, scratch pad. An easy-to-DIY recycled paper notepad not only looks cool, it saves the planet twice: it saves the water and energy that it would take to recycle that half-used paper into brand new stock, and it saves the ecological cost of making brand new paper just for you to scribble little notes on. Keep a stack of "re-claimed" pads in your desk drawer for notes and brainstorming, keep one by your phone for doodles while you're chatting, and pass some around the office to get your co-workers on the bandwagon. If you want to make a pad that's even classier, you can even bind used office paper into a simple but pretty stab-stitched book.
2. Keep Your Place With A Recycled Bookmark
Cut some half-printed sheets into strips for handy, at-your-fingertips bookmarks. Use them to keep track of how far you've read into that library book, and you'll get an added bonus: you can easily make notes about what you're reading while you're reading it, so not a single one of your genius thoughts is lost in the shuffle.
3. Print On The Back Of Every Sheet
Sure, it sounds kind of obvious, but a lot of people just don't think of printing something else on the blank side of a half-used sheet. If you're printing something to post on a bulletin board, or need to print out a draft of something you're working on editing, nobody but you will even know what's on the back, so why not use a piece of paper that's been printed on once, and just print on the fresh side?
4. Share Some Eco-Smart Hints
Reclaimed printed paper is a great choice for making little green reminder signs to put in appropriate places around your office, to help everyone remember some rad green habits. For example, you could tape up a little note by the light switch in your conference room to encourage your colleagues to switch off the lights when they leave, or tack up a sign by the coffeemaker reminding everyone to bring a reusable coffee mug in from home instead of grabbing a Styrofoam disposable every day, and you'll get an eco-double whammy if you're making your mark with paper that might otherwise get wasted.
Need proof that it's possible to balance being green and still be a supportive partner and parent? See how Ed Begley, Jr. does it on Planet Green TV's Living with Ed.