Tips for Planning a Paper Purge

In the 1960s, paper clothing became a fashion novelty in the United States and paper dresses sold in major department stores for about $8 each. Mars Hosiery created a publicity stunt offering customers a coupon which allowed them to purchase a paper dress for one dollar. Over three days, sales went from 5,000 to 50,000 dresses. At the height of demand, Mars Hosiery was producing 100,000 dresses a week as well as underwear, bridal gowns, raincoats, and bikinis that could be worn two to three times. But by 1968, paper clothing had completely disappeared from the market.

Paper has a lifespan, and unless you’re saving it to start a new paper fad, here are some realistic ways to plan a paper purge.

1. Eliminate Paper Statements and Bills

Common sense tells us that if you are ever going to bail out a leaky boat, you need to first stop the water from coming in. The same thing is true with purging paper. The paper you get rid of today is only going to be replaced tomorrow if you don’t stop it in the first place. Receiving statements and bills digitally instead of by mail is one way to cut off a source of paper entering your home or business. Consider paying your bills online instead of using paper checks. Did you know that only 56% of all bills are paid online? By using one of them, you will eliminate your paper check, the envelope, and the statement you send with it. This will allow you to save and eliminate paper, save the environment, and save money.

2. Take a 3-Pile Paper Inventory

If you take stock of all the paper you have, you will be able to direct it to one of three places: the Save pile, the Scan pile, or the Recycle pile.

  • The Save Pile includes documents like tax returns, medical information, insurance paperwork, and certificates. Sure, you can scan some of these as backup copies, but in many cases original copies are still needed. Also included in this pile are sentimental items that are valuable because of their originality.
  • The Scan Pile includes photographs (historic photos should be in the Save pile), receipts and invoices. Save these files as a PDF, a widely recognized and universal file format. Documents that need scanning should be scanned as they arrive to minimize the task of another paper purge.
  • The Recycle Pile is everything else that needs to be shredded or destroyed. Avoid just throwing these papers in the trash or recycle bin no matter what level of information they contain. Destroy all expired business records, files and documents and outdated certificates, licenses, and credit cards by shredding them. Avoid the nostalgia and desire to store old documents because they increase the risk of information theft.

3. Recycle Magazines and Newspapers

Recycle or donate your old magazines. Saving magazines that you know will never be read again just adds to the paper clutter you already have. Consider cancelling subscriptions that aren’t benefiting you or your clients. It will help reduce paper intake and save you money.

4. Upgrade Your Filing System

If you don’t have a filing system, start one. A good system will organize and store all your paper receipts, certificates, documents, tax returns, warranties, etc. making the required space more efficient and the documents easier to retrieve. The capacity of your file cabinet should match your file storage load so you don’t have over loaded file cabinets or use more space than necessary. Consider eliminating or combining file categories that are small or similar.

5. Implement an Immediate Recycle and Respond System

Deal with paper intake as it enters your space by making an immediate decision about how to handle it.

  • Recycle: Direct unwanted papers immediately to a nearby recycle bin so they don’t pile up. Flyers often require only a quick glance or read before recycling them. If everyone in your home or company makes this a practice, you won’t need to be reading about ways to paper purge.
  • Respond: Other documents like bills, RSVPs, letters, etc., can be pinned to a board or placed in a desktop file system to be dealt with at a later time. These are short term items requiring a quicker response time. Immediately transferring important dates, appointments and schedules from printed paper to a single calendar, or better yet, a digital calendar, will allow these documents to be recycled as well.

Purging paper offers incredible benefits to your personal and work environment. Purging creates more room and a more organized space, and also offers changes to habits and improves personal morale. Purging may seem like an overwhelming task, but with a bit of planning, taking the task one step at a time, and utilizing the services of a professional shredding company to securely destroy all information, you can accomplish big things. We offer one-time or purge project shredding, residential shredding, drop off and scheduled mobile shredding in the Northern Colorado community. Just give us a call at 970-532-5007 or complete the form on this page.

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