It’s just a ream of white paper.  Five hundred sheets, eight and a half by eleven, white.   There are a couple of them on the shelf above this computer.

You can buy it by the case at the office supply store.  I don’t even know how much it cost, not more than a few dollars.  I bet you I’ve bought a hundred reams.

When I was a kid, paper was scarce at our house.  We just didn’t have any.  And my Dad wasn’t about to spend a couple of dollars buying paper for me to waste.  You wrote something down when you needed to keep track of it.

“Don’t waste that paper, Mike.” He’d say.

A three ring composition book, just the same.  He would buy the 48 count pack of ruled paper.

“That ought to be enough to get you through the year.”  He’d say.  “I’ll buy you one if you need it for school.  But, you don’t need it just for writing.”

He would have called it gibberish, if that was a comfortable word for him.

My Dad didn’t read much at all.  Today, they’d label him as dyslexic or reading impaired.  I know he had a really hard life growing up.

He and his family didn’t throw much of anything away, until it had no useful life left.  Good clean paper was useful.

Then I got into the news writing business.

We used reams of paper every day.  We used a sheet to make a note, then wadded it up into a ball.  Threw it away.  The goal:  into the can without hitting the rim, that sort of stuff.

We got mad when what we wanted to say wasn’t going on the paper we were writing on.  We’d jerk the sheet out of the typewriter, wad it into a ball and pitch another strike into the garbage can.

The other day, the grand-daughters were at the house.

We got to making paper airplanes.  The girls need to learn how.  I’m their number one teacher, I think.

Their eyes got big.  A fold here, another fold there.  A paper clip on the front for weight and suddenly a handful of airplane.

Flying across the room – no problem.   Out on the porch, from one end to the other – no problem.  A crash landing, not anything to worry about.  A rumpled nose cone, the loss of a paper clip, again, no problem.

We made a dozen.  Threw all but the last two in the garbage.  Nothing salvageable.  Pure waste.

They got out the wax crayons.  We called them colors.  Down on their hands and knees, eyes close to the paper.  They drew houses, dolls, trees, dogs and people.  The markers left the paper, on to the wood floor.  No problem.  You don’t clean up some of the marks grandchildren leave.  Like left over fingerprints, I like to see evidence they were there.

This morning, looking at the pile of paper in the garbage can, not a single sheet was wasted.

Not any.


Please feel free to share.  I welcome your comments and thoughts.  Contact Mike Windham at  You can follow my blog at


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