Tips for a Greener Home School & Office

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Since I teach my kids at home, our house is where we “live.” It gets messier than it would if most of us were gone all day. It wears more of a “lived in” look than many other homes. This is where we do life.

It’s also where we go through huge amounts of papers and books. Couple that with a home office and the regular ins and outs of life and paper clutter, and we are rich in paper.

If you’ve read The Little House books, you know that Laura and Mary were pretty conservative with their paper, writing on all sides and in all directions. Paper was precious. I, on the other hand, have reams of paper filter through my home every year.

Homeschools and home offices can through a lot of paper. A lot of paper. Some of it is quite necessary. But there are ways to reduce paper clutter as well as be good stewards of the resources God has blessed us with.

Not only can it be a means of good stewardship, but a “greener homeschool and office” has the potential to be a tidier one.

Here are a few ways that we can “go greener” in our homes, homeschools, and offices:


  • Use a white board and dry erase markers, overhead projector, or computer screen to display messages, meal plans, and lessons.
  • Use plastic overlays in activity and workbooks instead of buying more.
  • Use digital means of record keeping and lesson planning instead of using paper.
  • Laminate posters, charts, checklists, and worksheets that can be reused instead of making more copies or buying new each year.
  • Read books on an electronic reader.
  • Check out books from the library.
  • Choose digital curriculum where appropriate. We like Teaching Textbooks that is self-grading and paperless.


  • Choose curriculum that is designed to be reusable.
  • Photocopy on both sides of the paper.
  • Do work on both sides of the paper. I keep a bin next to the computer for papers that can still be used on one side as “scratch” paper.
  • Buy supplies that are made from recycled materials.


  • Recycle exhausted papers and workbooks.
  • Donate old textbooks instead of throwing them away.

Win Eco-Friendly Products from Scotch

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Scotch Magic Tape. And in honor of the occasion, Scotch has released a new version of their transparent tape. Some characteristics of Scotch Magic Eco-Friendly Tape:

  • New, first-of-its-kind Scotch Magic Eco-Friendly Tape, including the tape, dispenser and packaging is made from 75% renewable or recycled materials.
  • Tape is made with plant-based adhesives
  • Works just like the original Scotch Magic Tape, but now even more environmentally-friendly
  • Still photo-safe and can be written on with pen, pencil or marker

This week three LifeasMOM readers will each win an eco-friendly desk kit courtesy of Scotch Magic Eco-Friendly Tape.

This giveaway is open until Sunday, May 1st at 8 pm, PST. The winners will be chosen randomly and notified via email. They will have 48 hours to respond in order to claim the prize.


This is part of the Going Green series. Join us all week for daily giveaways and inspiration for small ways to go green.

Disclosure: I received sample product as well as compensation for my time spent writing and administering this giveaway. My opinions are my own.

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  1. we have a pile, probably the equivalent of about 3 reams, of paper that is only used on one side. it’s what I use to print coupons and other stuff on.

  2. Re-organized our craft supplies this week. I can now see everything that we have, and I have a spot to start saving “scrap” paper from the things that we only use one side of a sheet!:)

  3. We get almost all of our bills/bank statements via email. You can also request digital copies of annual reports from your stocks and mutual funds.

  4. I’m trying to use scraps for notes and not throw out so much paper.

  5. we use page-protectors and dry erase pens for chore charts and other checklists. We also happily recycle!

  6. Christine says:

    Buying used books when we can, then selling them if we don’t need to keep them for a younger child.

  7. We work at not printing and then, printing on both sides

  8. Ebilling, reusable grocery bags, cfls and an electric attic vent (it sounds counterintuitive, but it last summer it reduced my average monthly electric kwh by about 30%), recycling, and composting. Funny how a lot of “green” things are also frugal things!

  9. I too use the white board and jot notes on the back of my scratch paper. I also recycle. I use my iphone endlessly, you’d be surprised at how much info it can hold and how much of that used to go on paper.

  10. We also reuse and/or recycle paper.

    I hung a sticky reusable white board on our fridge, and my husband and I use that for writing notes and to-do lists instead of lots of scraps of paper.

  11. Since I coupon & buy 4 papers every Sunday instead of just throwing the newspapers in the recycle bin I drop them off at my local assisted living facility. That way the residents get to enjoy the newspaper & i get to use my coupons.

  12. We save and reuse paper for scratch.

  13. We use the envelopes that come with various bills as “play” paper for the kids – they love “writing” notes and sealing them up!

  14. We recycle all paper in the house. We also think before we print, as in do we really need to print this?

  15. We recycle all paper – even our 2 year old knows this. We write on both sides, and when using them for art we encourage children to FILL THE WHOLE PAGE! Not just write one small picture in the middle and declare done 10 seconds after starting!

  16. I use dry erase markers and white boars for MANY things to reduce clutter. My 4 yr old slips clear plastic report covers over his workbook pages and uses dry erase markers to complete the page. The book can than be reused with little or no writing in it. That is especially great since he is learning to write and it takes PRACTICE!

  17. One of the ways we live greener is by giving our daughter scrap papers to color on. She’s just as happy coloring in the letters of documents we’ve had to print, and that way the paper gets a lot more use. Our town has a great recycling program, so all our used up paper goes into the recycle bin on trash pick-up day too. We love it!

  18. I receive all my statements and pay all my bills electronically. I “print” to PDF rather than on paper. And we recycle everything we can!

  19. Any paper that we are done with and is printed on only one side becomes scratch paper for math, or maybe the grocery list. Then it gets recycled.

    I also re-use envelopes from junk mail by making my shopping list on the envelope and then stuffing the coupons inside. Works great.

  20. I will use the backside of anything i have printed out as scrap paper.

  21. Caroline says:

    We have a pile of paper that has come home from school or in the mail that is only used on one side that we use for drawing, etc.

  22. I am making a big effort to not press “print” every time I feel the urge. I used to be horrible about printing out emails. Now I try to write things down on scrap paper — which I have plenty of!

  23. I cut off the remaining paper at the bottom of the page when I print coupons and cut them into squares to make flashcards.

  24. I reuse scratch paper, too. If I have a sheet with a blank side, I cut it into uniform pieces and keep them in a stack on my desk. This way I don’t have to buy jot pads. I got the idea from several libraries I’ve seen that reuse paper by cutting it into small pieces and putting them next to the reference computers for patrons to write down call numbers and book titles.

  25. I have an iPhone and an iPad. I go paper free as much as possible using Google and Evernote.

  26. We re-use paper and use on-line banking.

  27. Elizabeth M says:

    I save my used office paper for the kids to draw on the blank side.

  28. We’re big users of individual-sized chalkboards and white boards for our homeschool.

  29. We always use both sides of the paper, either for printing (Mom) or coloring (daughter).

  30. I’m only shredding what absolutely has to be shredded & recycling the rest.

  31. Danielle B says:

    We also save used paper and junk mail for scratch paper. We also save frozen juice can lids, twist ties from bread and garbage bags, baby food jars, etc. and use them in arts and crafts projects, especially around Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. We also reuse Ziploc bags that have been used so many times they can no longer hold liquids, to hold various other things like crayons for the diaper bag (to keep little hands busy).

  32. Pamela O. says:

    I keep my paper that is used on one side only to print coupons, extra math worksheets, drawing, etc.

  33. Kathleen K says:

    We do nearly all bills electronically and save copies as pdf–very little paperwork. Since I bought a huge number of spiral notebooks several years ago for $.08 each (not a type), I have the boys use that paper whenever possible.

  34. We do online billing. We keep a stack of papers that are printed on one side or cut in half and use any white part that’s left. It’s amazing how much of it we really use!

  35. We use non-toxic homemade cleaning products and cloths (not paper towels) for toys, desks, chairs, and school supplies.

  36. Joanna Mattas says:

    We print coupons on the back of papers that are used on one side

  37. I’m trying to use an online planner/organizer instead of my paper one. I’m using cozi’s new flylady version. I just don’t know if I can give up my franklin planner though.

  38. I’m just finishing up a set of tracing cards for our preschoolers that will be housed in heavy weight page protectors so the kiddos can use dry erase marker and use the sheets over and over.

    a_heart4home at yahoo dot com

  39. We have nearly every financial account on “electronic delivery” for statements and such. It’s taken some getting used to to balance our statements just viewing them online instead of actually printing the online statement, but I’ve got the hang of it now, so I don’t even need to print them anymore in order to balance. It’s been great not to have that paper coming into our home.

  40. My husband brings home unwanted paper from work (with permission) that has only been printed on on one side. They were going to recycle it of course, but this way it gets a second life first.

  41. we never buy pens or pencils… my husband can always pick them up at trade shows… and we recycle whatever we can!

  42. We have been trying to be green for awhile ond none of our plans are revolutionary or seem worth sharing:) Our newest sanity saver for me is a vermicote bin in the garage. We shred office papers, junk mail, school papers, food boxes etc and they go into the worm bin with our food scraps. Feels much better when I know that the scribbled on paper will eventually end up in the garden.

  43. Jennifer says:

    We always print or draw on both sides of the paper.

  44. I print on the backside of papers I no longer need and my son also uses the back of papers to draw on. We also use online bill pay for everything we can.

  45. Aside from utilizing my local library and my Kindle, I let all my magazine subscriptions run out and now read the on-line versions. I also switched from regular paper towels to the kind that are perferated in half, and it’s amazing how I never seem to need the old full sized sheets! Green is Keen!

  46. Natalie Q. says:

    We reuse paper that has only been used on one side. We either print coupons and such on the blank side, or I cut it up and put it in a tray for scratch paper.

  47. We recycle whatever we can. I also try to reuse whatever I can!

  48. I make notebooks for my niece out of used paper – so one green separator sheet for the cover, and half-sized sheets inside for the pages. She LOVES them.

  49. We get bills electronically, and I use the backs of used papers to print my coupons.

  50. We don’t print very often and when we do we use the paper again for scratch paper for drawing or shopping lists.

  51. Jen Fitzpatrick says:

    I have a bin with paper that has a lot of life left in it as scratch paper. I leave my ink cartridges in the printer long after it flashes on my screen that they are out of ink.

  52. Online bill pay, library for movies, books, and magazines, and passing on toys and clothes as the kids grow.

  53. We have changed our printer settings to use less ink, and have our children use scrap paper for drawing.

  54. everything we possibly can we do electronically, and we just bought a nook to read that way too.

  55. I print on both sides of the paper, or use it for scratch paper.

  56. Pamela J says:

    We try to get books from the library whenever possible. If we do have books we own that we no longer need, they get passed on to schools and “Parents as Teachers”.

  57. We do on-line bill paying; use the library as much as possible; and of course try to make the kids use “used” paper for their endless doodling/creations. thanks!

  58. Amanda Gray says:

    All paper that makes it’s way into the house, gets scanned and stored in Evernote. That way, I always have access to it. And for the paper? It gets moved to the box that stores the paper that my kids use for coloring. When we are done enjoying the art, it gets recycled.

  59. I try to cut down on the amount of paper I use by reusing scrap paper and I print on the back of paper.

  60. I try to find books at the library before buying them. If it is a one-time read I return it and all is good. If I decide that I must own the book to reference back to I will try to find it on paperback swap or used on amazon before I will buy it new. This is not only green, but saves tons of money!

  61. we use junk mail as scrap paper and magazines get used up for crafts after they have been read

  62. I print on both sides of the paper when possible and save scraps and envelopes for lists (I love keeping old envelopes to put the coupons I will need to use on a shopping trip, writing my list on the outside of the envelope).

  63. In our homeschool, we’re making a conscious effort to use both sides of the paper. This has been a work in progress with my kindergartner, since she thinks that a paper is ‘finished’ when there’s writing on one side! We’ve worked on it a lot and she’s really getting much better about making sure that each piece of paper is thoroughly used before recycling!

  64. To cut down on paper waster we use lots of whiteboards, laminated lists we also write & erase with, print on both sides, draw on only “used” paper and recycle anything we’ve finally used to death.

  65. I reuse paper so that both sides are utilized before it’s thrown away.

  66. I use scratch paper to print coupons.

  67. We try very hard to recycle and reuse everything we can. We melt down small broken crayons to make new larger crayons. We use papers and envelopes a second time or for use in “play” activities like Post Office, House or school. I also cut up discarded paper that is blank on one side into 4ths and use these scraps in place of sticky notes.

  68. we are trying to move everything online in terms of bills, etc. not only does it get rid of paper clutter in our house, but it saves paper!

  69. I don’t print pictures or buy scrapbook supplies anymore. I store my photos online and print the books about once a year.

  70. cloth rags instead of paper towels for most uses

  71. We use scrap paper for printing. We try to avoid printing if possible.

  72. Brandy Fisk says:

    I print coupons then use the paper to print more coupons or use as scratch paper.

  73. I save my junk mail, and use the back to print my coupons.

  74. Leigh F. says:

    I am chaning over to have my bills emailed to me rather than mailed. Also, we recycle everything that we can .

  75. we reuse paper///notes from school, stuff printed one side, etc are reused!

  76. Jennifer H. says:

    We compost our kitchen scraps and use cloth rags instead paper towels wherever possible.

  77. Sally Mcquaid says:

    Once we are ready to throw away paper, it is shredded and then placed in our compost pile. This leaves only a small stack of “shiny” papers that cannot be composed to go to the recycler.

  78. We print on both sides of our paper and I laminate or use sheet protectors with our worksheets so that they can be reused.

  79. We print on both sides, use recyclable bags, use paper towels only when necessary (use dish towels instead), online banking..We try to re-use what we can…Thanks.

  80. I use both sides of the paper, when possible. I’m also training my son (who loves to draw and write stories, etc…) to use less paper, or at least keep it corralled in a notebook!

    Love to win this giveaway!

  81. try using an thing that is paper to write on.. example an envelope to write lists on…

  82. I save paper to print coupons and other documents on the other side.

  83. Emily E Lah says:

    We make sure to print or use both sides of all paper that comes through our house. Of course, that is before recycling it.

    eesuiter(at) hotmail (d0t) c0m

  84. I have just recently gone green in my home office. I was amazed at the trees I was killing by all the paper I was collecting. So I am attempting to go digital and save things to an external hard drive instead of printing everything and keeping the paper. Amazingly I feel more organzied without having all that paper to deal with.

  85. Jennifer M says:

    We use “recycled paper” that has been used on one side to print coupons.

  86. I like to use as less paper as possible. I will write little notes on receipts or old envelopes.

    newtomom at

  87. I try to reuse any of my computer paper that has not been printed on completely.

  88. Like you, I keep a pile of “only used on one side” paper for notes, art projects, etc.

  89. Elizabeth Kamm says:

    I just set up a recycling bin for our home to put all paper from homeschool/home office to take to the recycling center.

  90. The ways I have begun to reduce:

    – Reading on a Kindle = no more books cluttering up the house.

    – Most of our bills are now “paperless” and we can store the digital files if ever needed.

    – Craft patterns, recipes, etc. can be saved as a PDF file and sent to my Kindle for later use. That way they are still portable and I can try things out to see if I like them before I add them to a printed binder.

    – We cut off unused portions of printable coupon pages for scrap paper.

  91. Jennifer C. says:

    I save scrap paper…even from junk mail to reuse to print coupons…double sided when possible, of course!!

  92. Becki Foster says:

    In the school copy room, we recycle paper and good paper (one side is blank) is cut into note paper size – teachers love this! We also provide coffee and have requested that people bring their own cups to save on disposable cups.

  93. When I worked in an office, I printed so many more materials than I do now that I work from home. I don’t print things out to go to meetings, I just look at them on the screen.
    Thanks for a fun giveaway!

  94. Used newspapers go into the garden as a weed & moisture control system. It’s topped w/more dirt and eventually enhances the consistency of our sandy soil. We recycle almost everything we have.

  95. Michelle says:

    It’s a small thing, I know, but we print on the front & back of all papers if we’re able to.

  96. kathleen says:

    i recycle and by in bulk for less packaging

  97. One thing I have done is switch as many of our bills to e-statement through email and pay them online instead of getting paper statements and mailing checks. At least there is a little less paper in my life! 🙂

  98. Jolene in Michigan says:

    I also have a pile of one-side-only papers right next to the printer so I can use it to print anything that doesn’t require an absolutely clean piece, like coupons. 🙂

  99. I receive and pay almost all bills online. I print coupons on the back of papers no longer needed. I recycle all cardboard, junk mail and scratch paper after both sides are used. I make my own notepads by cutting scratch paper into fourths and stapling the top. There are areas I could improve, but it is a start!

  100. Use the draft option whenever possible when printing out info from your computer to save on ink.

  101. I bought a whole bunch of cotton towels to be used instead of paper towels. We haven’t yet made the complete switch, but I think we’re getting there.

  102. By getting organized, and using and buying only what we need, I am less wasteful and have become more diligent about not over consuming, Organize and simplify = greener way of living.

  103. We have gone greener by buying secondhand

  104. Naomi S. says:

    I have a pile of one-sided printed paper under my desk in a basket. When it gets full I cut the paper in fours and use the blank side for scratch paper for taking quick notes or messages. I also turn my computer off when I’m completely done using it for the day.

  105. Michelle P. says:

    We LOVE to recycle, started a compost pile, and try to make notes on envelopes or any other scrap paper.

  106. I recycle paper as much as possible. We use the back of printed sheets as scratch paper or for art projects if the paper is just going to be cut up anyway.

  107. Many things that we do have already been noted. Regarding homeschooling materials, I pick up most of our homeschool art supplies at garage sales; reducing our homeschool expenses and reusing those materials with my kiddos who love to do art! We have tried lots of art projects because of things that we have found at garage sales.

  108. We try to use as little paper as possible for school work. We have a dry erase board and I laminate some things so they can be used over & over.

  109. I have to print a lot of paperwork for my job. I am very concious of what I do print and try to email as much as I can.

  110. We reuse paper that was only half used in craft projects and to use as “to-do” lists.

  111. Tammy Ward says:

    We sell books on Ebay after reading and print on both sides of paper.

  112. Jessie C. says:

    We reuse paper

  113. My husband aims for as many e-statements/bills as possible. And I try to get the kids to use BOTH sides of the paper!

  114. We recycle as much as we can.

  115. If paper isn’t used on both sides it isn’t done yet! And those small pieces that can’t be put back into the printer are put into the bin for the kids to use – color, draw, “play school”, etc. When it has been used to it’s fullest extent it is then put into the recycle bin to be used again!

  116. I keep an empty Pampers box under my desk and throw all paper in it. When full I take it to the green recycling bins all the schools have!

  117. We try to recycle our paper as much as possible.
    Our city has a recycling service that comes the same day as garbage day.
    So we have a recyle can that gets picked up.
    It’s easy and helps me to be good about recycling.

  118. I make copies for my students on both sides of the paper when possible. Paper that is only used on one side gets torn in half for them to use as scrap paper. I take that paper home for list making for myself as well. We have a recycling bin in our classroom for paper and another for plastic bottles. And I recycle at home too!

  119. We are printing less and using more computer files.

  120. Most of the paper we use is for printing coupons, but I have the default setting on our printer set to Draft mode instead of Normal. Uses less ink.
    I’m also an avid crafter and find tons of patterns and ideas. Rather than print out all those ideas, they get saved electronically – as PDFs, Word documents or in Evernote.

  121. I actually put away the printer. I have it for emergencies, but I have to need a hard copy bad enough to unpack and re-set it up.

  122. I reuse paper in the printer if nothing important is on one side. I buy the larger ink cartridges for the printer, so I replace them less often.

  123. We use very little paper. I keep printing to a minimum and I always email instead of mailing letters.

  124. Use the paper between the coupons I print to make lists or let my son color on it.

  125. I go through all my boys school paper and use the side that has nothing on it goes in the copier for coupons and when I cut out my coupons I use the rest of the sheet of paper for scratch pads.

  126. Rebecca W. says:

    Trying to use up some of the paper that is printed only on one side.

  127. I print on both sides of our paper. I also use some odd size paper and old company letterhead to do basic “in-house” printing. I love your suggestions!

  128. Lynda Clark says:

    I recycle any and all paper items that I can and I also try to “re-purpose” other office items once they are used such as the empty calculator rolls and from tape are great used in making crafts. We are really trying to cut down our paper consumption and limit the use of non-degradable products as much as we can.

  129. Some of our bills are paid electronically and I try not to throw paper out if it has another use as scrap or in craft projects.

  130. I recently started printing on both sides of the paper and refilling our ink cartridges.

  131. Andrea Watts says:

    I try to make my ink go farther and use less paper.

  132. We’ve switched to online billing for most things. I also reuse envelopes from mail. For shopping, I just write my list on the outside and stick my coupons inside. I also use them corral items that I need to pass along to others. They easily slip in my purse so that I have them with me whenever I see that person again.

  133. Natalie B says:

    The biggest thing I do in my home office is reuse my office paper…. when I print out a coupon that only uses half the sheet, I cut the coupon off and use the other half as scratch paper for my boys… they LOVE to color and draw pictures… and instead of them using a full or “partial” sheet, they use the other half of my coupon print out!!

  134. We also use both sides of the paper when possible. Any “mess ups” from the printer get reused for more printing or for craft projects.

  135. We always reuse paper. When we decide we have used the piece to its fullest, we recycle it!

  136. Jen Logan says:

    We use online banking and omit paper statements, reuse paper until it can’t be used anymore and use to recycle books.

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