How to Have a Tree Free Home

Many media messages warn us about the loss of forests around the world and how the products we use every day are causing much of this loss. To reduce your personal consumption of products using trees, here are some simple methods for achieving this. Of course, nothing in this article is suggesting that your home should be free of growing trees; feel free to plant them in abundance!


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    Replace disposable paper product usage with reusable items:
    • replace paper napkins with cloth napkins
    • replace paper towels with a special set of cloth towels/napkins - store the used ones in a small container in your kitchen and just wash and reuse
    • use handkerchiefs in place of tissues except where this would be unhygienic, such as during a highly infectious cold
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    Use recycled toilet paper. Purchase bleach-free, toilet paper that is made from the highest post-consumer waste content you can find (80% minimum).
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    Print both sides. When you print documents, print on once-used paper and/or bleach-free, recycled paper with the highest post-consumer waste content available (or hemp/alternative-source paper, if you can afford it).
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    Make use of existing paper to create new paper items. What have you already got lying around the house that can be put to good use another time around? Consider:
    • creating and using note pads from once-used paper
    • leaving messages for family members/roommates on a reusable message board
    • making your own cards/letters from once-used products or handmade paper
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    Build without trees. If you will be doing construction work on your house, search out alternatives to using newly cut wood. Options include:
    • straw bale
    • bamboo
    • true (natural) linoleum
    • previously used (recycled/vintage) wood
    • composite decking
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    Place a "Mail Only" sticker on your mailbox. All that junk mail adds up to a lot of trees over time, not to mention clutter in your life. Look for weekly specials online instead.
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    Pay bills online. Some companies will now send you an electronic bill if you wish. Pay the bill online and keep the entire transaction paperless.
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    Share your books around. Borrow books from the library rather than purchase them or purchase the books from a secondhand dealer and return them for an exchange when you have read them. There are other ways to share books around too, such as using a site like where you can leave books anywhere for someone else to enjoy. Less clutter for you, more sharing around of ideas and an excuse to swap an old book for a new one.
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    Read the newspaper online. Subscribe to your newspaper online. As a sound compromise, subscribe to an online edition weekdays and only purchase the paper copy on weekends when you have more time to read through the paper. Make good use of the finished newspaper and recycle it.
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    Grow trees in the garden. The house may be better off being tree-free but the garden should be filled with trees that are appropriate to your climate, soil and living space. Plant them when you can. If you don't have a garden or cannot grow trees, join a local conservation group and help them to plant trees, even if you only have time to do it once a year.


  • Keep a sachet of lavender or eucalyptus in with the washing cloths to keep them smelling fresh during storage.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth napkins and wash cloths
  • Internet access
  • Recycled paper product where unavoidable paper usage, e.g., toilet paper
  • Old paper for reuse
  • Alternative building supplies

Sources and Citations

  • Original source of article adapted from Global Stewards, Tree Free Home, a public domain resource.

Article Info

Categories: Reduce Recycle and Reuse | Sustainable Living