Week 17: Receipts

I’ve really struggled with deciding what to write for today’s post. In a way, I feel like I’ve dealt with all the things that seem ‘obvious’ to me, and now I’m digging around, trying to find a new topic that doesn’t seem too daunting or unachievable.

Having given it some thought, I’ve decided to write about a very common but often unnoticed item: receipts. I’ve always felt the need to collect proof of all my purchases so I can write down exactly how much I’ve spent and what on (a project that is only successful intermittently). I kept years of receipts in envelopes in a drawer, all dated in the top right-hand corner, and a year or so ago I did go through them and recycled a lot of them.

But recently, I’ve read that recycling receipts can actually do more harm than good. Receipts are printed on thermal paper, which is bad for the environment because thermal paper often contains BPA, a harmful chemical. Recycling receipts therefore allows this chemical to get into supplies of recycled materials – e.g. toilet paper – which can potentially be dangerous.

I was pretty surprised when I found this out – it’s not something that I feel is really common knowledge! And when I ploughed through my piles of old receipts, I realised I don’t need records of all these purchases. If I’m paying with a credit or debit card, then I generally do like to have proof of purchase, but if it’s a small item such as toothpaste from Boots, I can either remember the price, jot it down or type it into the notepad app on my phone, thereby not needing to have a receipt printed.

So to recycle receipts or not? Because they’re paper, a part of me always want to recycle them! But maybe it’s better than paper containing BPA ends up in landfill. My policy is going to be avoid receipts when possible, and if I need one or it’s printed automatically for me, then I’ll use the other side (if it’s blank) for shopping lists or to-do lists before I through them away. This will save using a new sheet of paper, if nothing else.

What do you think? Do you hoard receipts (or other items you don’t really need?)

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9 thoughts on “Week 17: Receipts

  1. I tend to collect my receipts as well – only shredding them after a few years – I have a system of going through all my paperwork at the end of the financial year to ditch anything old. Wouldn’t it be great if you could ask people not to print a receipt? “I don’t need a bag” gets strange enough looks as it is!

    • I know, I think tills tend to be programmed to print one automatically, which is frustrating. But I’m getting used to ignoring all the looks I get when I say “I don’t need a bag”! Sometimes I even have to take my purchases out the bag and give it back if they’ve given me one without me noticing!

  2. Great post, Joanna. I did not realise that recycling receipts was so damaging to the environment! Good job that I decided a few years back to minimise the amount of receipts I kept. One habitI dropped completely was requesting a receipt after withdrawing cash from a cash point. I used to feel that if I did not do this, my bank statement would show an incorrect amount I withdrew and I would have no evidence. However, as this has never actually happened to me, and that I can immediately check my banking online, I found no need to continue doing this.

    • I know, it took me a while before I realised! Yes, I felt that too – and I worry that I need proof of my purchases, but actually when I looked back at all the receipts I’d accumulated over the years, I really didn’t need all the ones telling me I’d bought shampoo or treated myself to a hot chocolate! I’ve also stopped getting paper statements for my bank accounts, which I was hesitant about doing before. Thanks for checking out my blog, I’m glad you’ve found it useful. I’m trying to cut down on the amount of ‘stuff’ I have so your blog is great at helping me with that!

    • Thanks, it was! Can’t believe how much wrapping paper gets used! I was using up some old Christmas paper that I bought last year but I’m definitely going to look into eco paper for birthdays in 2014.

  3. As for wrapping paper, we gave that up a few years ago and now use brown paper or newspapers. Someone I talked to would gather newspapers in her travels to use as wrapping paper. You could get a present wrapped in a foreign language. We also use potato or apple prints or just markers to decorate the brown paper. Receipts are a problem. i haven’t figured out how to not get one. They print them anyway. And we have started to bring reusable grocery bags with us. Thanks for the heads up on the “Don’t recycle receipts” I did not realize the damage they do. Great Blog. Glad you are back.

    • I haven’t yet tackled the wrapping paper, but that would be a good topic for a future post! Although we do always reuse wrapping paper if we can. Brown paper and newspapers are both great ideas!
      I know, I’m frustrated about receipts too – especially since I learnt that you shouldn’t really recycle them. Ah well, small steps!
      Thanks for your comment – lovely to hear you enjoy my blog 🙂

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