When the 2010 United States Census started campaigning for Americans to get counted, they mailed to each household a letter explaining the forthcoming census paperwork, a postcard reminder to check the mailbox, and the census itself. Thank you, Census Bureau, for unnecessarily wasting paper and simultaneously annoying nearly 115 million households. Go planet!
Reducing paper mail is an easy step towards living green. Direct mail, bills, advertisements, and catalogs consume huge amounts of paper. Here are five ways to master your mailbox and control the amount of paper you send and receive.
1. Dear “Current Resident,” reduce and refuse direct mail, that is, junk mail. Companies spend more money on this type of marketing than any other, often mailing to a large number of people in an attempt to gain customers and offer discounts. Not only do they waste time and paper, direct marketers invade privacy. There are options to rid your mailbox of this common clutter:
- Write “Refuse” any unopened mail and send it back to the post office. However, this method does not cut off the source.
- Contact the company directly and ask to be removed from their mailing list.
- Visit websites that control your direct mail preferences, such as www.dmachoice.org and www.donotmail.org.
- Campaign for a National Do Not Mail Registry, a “Do Not Call” list for mailboxes.
2. Ask for paperless statements from your banks and other billing services. According to www.payitgreen.org, switching to electronic bills and statements not only reduces paper’s negative impact on the environment, but also protects your privacy by switching to online options. If you have numerous accounts to transfer to paperless, websites such as www.mint.com track multiple accounts online and assist with managing your budget and payments.
3. Ask your employer if you can be paid via direct deposit. You’ll get the money faster and save yourself a trip to the bank. Pay It Green notes that every year, paper checks use over 600 million gallons of fuel and add over 3 million tons of CO2 into the environment.
4. Recycle the paper mail you receive at home. Many municipalities offer curbside pickup of newspapers, junk mail, and other paper products. If not, check out www.earth911.com to find your local recycling center and other green living tips.
5. Do as much mailing as you can electronically. Email is quicker than snail mail and costs nothing. In addition to your monthly bills and payments, consider other ways to cut down on your paper mail. For example, send out electronic “Save the Date” wedding invites, RSVP online, and cancel your magazine subscriptions (you can read all the gossip online, anyways). You’ll also save money on postage stamps!
Clearly, it’s easy to adopt a lifestyle that reduces the paper mail you send and receive. Not only can you thwart the privacy-stealing junk-mailers, but also you save yourself time and money. Don’t let the mailbox win!