Ways to Reduce Costs on Paper Products

Many people view paper products as essential household items. In truth, while paper products offer great convenience, their use harms the environment and depletes our pocketbooks.

If you have not thought much about your paper consumption, consider how many paper products you use during the course of a year and the amount of money you could save by cutting back.

Read on for some ways to cut down on paper product usage and boost your savings account.

Paper Towels

Paper towels are handy for quick clean-ups, particularly in the kitchen. They are often promoted as an effective way of eliminating the germs that grow in tradition cloth towels. Use a paper towel once, however, and it becomes just another piece of trash.

Try trading in your paper towels for traditional, easily laundered wash rags made from old T-shirts. Save paper towels for jobs that would render your wash rag unsuitable for laundering and reuse.

For glass cleaning, turn to dampened microfiber cloths, which effectively gather bacteria and dirt with their tiny fibers. These cloths possess the added benefit of not requiring the use of expensive, environmentally unsafe cleaners.

Facial Tissue

Handkerchiefs have fallen from fashion, and many people find the thought of using one distasteful. They are easily laundered, however, and soft cotton handkerchiefs are much kinder to red, raw noses than their paper counterparts.

Unlike tissues, a handkerchief will never leave messy bits of paper in your dryer when you forget to remove it from a pocket before laundering clothing. A good supply of handkerchiefs can be had for little expense, allowing you to replace each used handkerchief with a fresh one as needed.


Use cloth napkins every day instead of saving them for special occasions. Cloth napkins are economical, durable and more absorbent than paper napkins. They take up little space in the washing machine and do not require laundering in hot water.

Barely used napkins can be kept at each family member’s place setting as they are in some European countries, cutting down on the need for washing.

Coffee Filters

Purchase reusable coffee filters, which are available for many coffee makers in muslin, cotton, hemp and metal versions. Some permanent mesh coffee filters cost only a few dollars and provide the benefit of extra sturdiness, meaning no more unwanted grounds spilling into your coffee.

Paper Plates

Paper plates offer convenience at a cost to your wallet and the environment. Take the extra time and effort to wash dishes instead of throwing your money away. For picnics and barbecues, reusable sturdy plastic plates are a better option than paper.

Do not make the mistake of buying flimsy plastic dishes, however. You will probably end up throwing them away, and they will not degrade in the landfill.

Writing or Printing Paper

Make a habit of hanging onto scratch paper consisting of incoming mail and printing mistakes. Keep this paper handy for quick notes and lists. Use both the front and back sides of any writing paper you use.

Before printing, proofread documents carefully, preview for formatting errors and print only the pages you need. Save on stamps, envelopes and mail clutter by signing up for e-statements and paying your bills online.

Wrapping Paper

Instead of spending money on gift wrap that will be viewed once and discarded, put your creativity to work and make use of cloth bags, stray scraps of fabric, planters, baskets, jars and cookie tins for gift-giving.

Old maps make a unique gift wrap that can be matched to the gift inside. You might use a marine chart to wrap a sailing-themed gift. The Sunday comic strips make colorful, fun wrapping paper for children’s gifts, and relatives will enjoy receiving gifts wrapped in kids’ artwork.

Toilet Paper

For those items most of us just cannot live without, such as toilet paper, buying in bulk makes sense. Surprisingly, bulk warehouses do not always offer the best deals.

Supermarket chains offer big savings on toilet paper, with most running sales twice a month. Discounts range anywhere from 20 to 40 percent. Look for two-for-one deals, and make use of the merchant ad circulars as well as manufacturer coupons from the Sunday newspaper.


  1. You can always use cloth wipes for toilet paper as well. My wife and I use cloth wipes and diapers for our son and daughter. We admittedly don’t use cloth wipes ourselves but we could and it would be cheaper.

    • The wipes are the same , as baby wipes they work great, put in pail with top and rinse then wash like diapers

      • I also make Kleenex from white flannel, cut same size as Kleenex fold and put in container , then when used put in container with lid on then wash as wash cloths, there is no differance than using the same wash cloths over and over, and they are so nice when you have a sore nose.

  2. What about the actual and environmental cost of running that washing machine & dishwasher? Isn’t it really a trade-off? I justify using paper plates by reusing them to feed the cat.

  3. Michellea,
    Unless you live in an extremely water challenged locale, the overall costs of paper are far more than wash and reuse. And washing is a process that can be optimized, where creation, transport and disposal of paper is by definition, industrial scale, and complex to mitigate or redesign.
    You can gray or recycle water in your home, for instance, relatively simply. You can wash using the three bin method where the first bin is detergent, the second is a disinfectant, and the third is a rinse. This works best in large population households with sufficient counter space for the bins. Gray water, or reuse, assumes you have a garden and access to your drain pipes to redirect gray water.
    The washing of reusable cloth instead of paper products is negligible compared to the water used to produce the paper produce, and laundry water is even easier to redirect to reuse as the washing machine has its own drain hose you can access.

  4. Why is there no alternative to toilet paper? Who is stopping you or me to use water? Please remember that is NOT a bio hazard to use bare hands and water; for if it was, we would have died just carrying it around in our bodies before we would ever get a chance to eliminate it!

    By the way, there are some cultures around the world who have not even seen toilet paper. Many of them, who got introduced somehow, still prefer water to toilet paper.

  5. You can and it is cheap , you cut pieces of flannel , then put in a container and wash like cloth diapers , works great , cut in 6/6 pieces or size you like

  6. Well, there’s always the “split the toilet paper in half” trick, but I think that’s borderline desperation. Or you could do what we used to do in college – take rolls from public bathrooms. Both methods are borderline insane (considering the low cost of toilet paper).