We go through a lot of paper at my house, which hasn't ever been a problem because we've always seemed to have a never-ending supply of scratch paper for the children to draw on and make snowflakes out of and turn into telescopes and do whatever else it is they do with the paper. We've had Harman invoices from Grandma's years of scanning and converting paper invoices to PDFs. We've had print outs of book manuscripts and articles to review. We've had reams of dot matrix paper, rendered useless with the advent of the laser jet. At one point my Uncle Bruce even drove a box of scratch paper from my mom in Utah to Washington DC when he went to visit my cousin Elizabeth at the birth of her baby, and then I drove up to Washington DC from North Carolina (well, I mean, Andrew did the driving, obviously, but I was in the car) to pick it up!
We moved to Georgia without much in the way of scratch paper (although we did pack a big drawerful from Grandma's office closet) so recently I found myself hunting around for a new source of scratch paper. One woman in our ward gave me some dot matrix paper that had been taking up space in her supply closet at work. Another woman gave me about a ream of paper from her office that, having been printed on one side, was destined for the recycling bin—this was in March right at the beginning of all this pandemic panic when I was trying to get my immunization records (or something?) notarized so I could finish applying for grad school.
Anyway, we're about at the end of that batch of scratch paper so I decided to send out another message asking for scratch paper, but this time I asked on our neighbourhood forum instead of our ward forum and it was such a good thing I did! I only got one response, from a man a few streets over, who I've never met.
He said he could hook us up with as much paper as we could possibly ever want. He owns his own print shop and is drowning in paper that nobody wants!
So today Andrew went by his house and the man gave Andrew a box of coloured and fancy papers, cut to various sizes, including (much to Miriam's delight) watercolour paper! He also set along a big box (he said it was about 1000 sheets) of plain white paper, clean on both sides. Really it had been a set of office stationary that was printed with a typo in the address, but this kind man chopped off the printed part (losing only an inch or so of the page) leaving perfect white paper for the kids to draw on.
Useless for him but gold for us!
He also sent along some large rolls of poster paper (just the leftovers that are too small to print posters on but absolutely ginormous for colouring on).
The kids are in paper heaven and this man has no idea how much he's saved my homeschool mornings! Zoë and Alexander colour (intently) while the bigger kids are homeschooling (intently) and running out of paper has really put a damper on our morning...intensity. Now that we have a fresh supply of paper, I'm hoping those two little ones will return to making dozens of drawings instead of bugging everybody!
I did send this man a thank you text (Andrew was the one who went to pick up the paper, naturally) and he said I was welcome to his refuse at any time (though he imagined we wouldn't need more paper for quite some time, I think he'll be surprised how quickly we'll be back knocking on his door).
Sometimes (but only very rarely and only very briefly), I feel guilty about not letting my kids draw on beautiful new paper, but my frugal, environmentalist heart simply can't fathom the idea of doodling on a fresh piece of paper! Besides, I attended BYU's Books For Young Readers conference last month and Guy Francis, a Utah-based illustrator, said that you don't need beautiful tools to be an artist. Growing up he had a friend (turned illustrator) whose dad had a print shop and would supply him with cast-off stationary and he developed fine artistic skills on used paper and regular, ordinary pencils. So my kids are going to be just fine as well. And I won't have guilt over wasting paper because...we aren't wasting, we're reusing!