More than 100 million trees’ worth of bulk mail arrive in American mail boxes each year – that’s the equivalent of deforesting the entire Rocky Mountain National Park every four months. (Source: New American Dream)
40% of the solid mass that makes up our landfills is paper and paperboard waste. (Source: 41pounds.org)
One of the most eco-friendly action steps you can take to save paper (and trees), reduce clutter, reduce waste, and increase home management efficiency is to go paperless!
Start by eliminating unnecessary or unwanted phone books, catalogs, alumni newsletters, advertisements, and other junk mail by opting out or removing your name from mass marketing lists. Then gradually take more steps to go paperless--choose to bank or pay bills online, receive e-statements, say no to paper receipts, and start reducing clutter by scanning documents rather than filing them away.
Reduce junk and other unwanted mail by doing the following:
- Visit DMAchoice.org to register and manage your junk mail from direct marketing companies. (There’s also a service on this site to help you manage unwanted e-mail.)
- Visit OptOutPrescreen.com to opt-out of receiving credit or insurance offers via mail.
- Visit CatalogChoice.org to register and manage other junk mail, catalogs, and phone books you receive. (There’s also an option to donate--a minimum of $20--and become “unlisted.”)
- Visit Yellowpagesoptout.com to register and manage which directories you receive in the mail.
- When you get a letter from your credit card, mortgage, insurance, or other company that is about privacy rights and opting out, make sure to read it through and follow the directions for opting out--otherwise they will assume you are OK with your name being made available to other companies and organizations.
- Remember that whenever you submit your name and address for anything--contests, warranties, charities, subscriptions, memberships, etc.--there is a strong chance your name will be made available for marketing and mailing lists. Always write or say these words when submitting your personal information: “please do not rent, sell, or trade my name or address.”
- Contact any companies that still send you junk mail and ask to be removed from their mailing lists. You can contact them through their websites, call their toll-free customer service number, or send them a letter. Make sure to also tell them not to put your name on any list they sell to other companies or organizations. (Another tip: make it a habit whenever you are communicating with someone you regularly do business with--credit card, cable company, department store, etc--to have them note in your account that you do NOT want your name sold or traded to anyone else.)
- Remember that writing “refused” or “return to sender” will not remove your name from any mailing lists or help to reduce waste. The post office will simply discard these mailings.
- Don’t forget to repeat these steps as often as necessary to keep them updated per your preferences. Some companies require you to opt-out or opt-in as often as annually, others have 5-year or permanent options--read the fine print!
Choose to go paperless by doing the following:
- Check out these tips for , , and .
- Take advantage of electronic billing statements (e-statements) offered by most businesses nowadays (including banks, credit cards, and cable and utility companies). It’s very easy to do--just log in to their website and look for the option to stop receiving paper statements. Each month, you’ll get an e-mail reminding you that your electronic billing statement is ready for viewing, downloading, and saving. (Create a file on your computer’s hard drive for each business or category and don’t forget to regularly back up your files!) (Here’s another tip: use a separate e-mail address that’s ONLY for receiving statements, online banking, and online bill paying!)
- Pay your bills online to save money, paper and time. You can set up most of your bills to be paid automatically and directly from your bank account or you can go to each business’s website to pay the bill and avoid having to buy a stamp and mail it in.
- Gradually start to scan important documents and save to your computer (again, it’s very important to back up information regularly!) Of course there are some things you’ll need to keep hard copies of (birth certificates, deeds, tax information, passports, etc.), but most things can eventually be purged, shredded, or digitized.
For more ideas and information about going paperless and reducing junk mail, click on the links below::
By starting with small action steps and gradually changing your habits, you can go paperless! Using less environmental resources, reducing home or office clutter, reducing waste, and increasing efficiency are win-win situations for both you and the Earth!