In an attempt to blog more, I am designating every Friday as Earthday at Sweet Little Domestic Life. Every Friday I am going focus on a green product or activity that will make the world a cleaner place.
This week: Greening my Mail
I was cleaning my house the other day which involves making piles of papers to shred and papers to recycle. Over 90% of these papers were bills, bank statements or junk mail. I pay many of my bills online or by phone, but on most of my accounts I never bothered to set up online bill pay. The problem is that every company handles their bill paying differently and so set-up can be a bit of a pain. There are centralized billing systems like My Check Free, but they don't do billing from every company. You can also pay bills online through your bank, but you will still get the physical bills in the mail which means just as much waste. It took me about an hour to set-up an online account with all of my companies and to cancel my physical billing statements. I also set up an online account with my bank and canceled the statements that come to my house which, considering my latest encounter with bank fraud, is something that I should have done a long time ago. Now the only bill that will come to my house is the water bill (because the water company has no option for paperless billing, yet.)
After stopping all of the bill mail I felt really liberated so I decided to move on to the junk mail. It ends up that stopping the bills is much easier than stopping the junk. The average American receives almost 600 pieces of junk mail every year; can you imagine what that looks like in a landfill? There are about a million types of junk mail and each has to be controlled in a different way. Since I don't want to devote all of my free time to stopping the junk I just took a few basic steps which should stop the majority of my unwanted mail. First, I removed my name from the DMA and Direct Mail lists. Then, since most of my unwanted mail is credit card offers, I called the opt out number (800-567-8688) which is used by the three major credit bureaus. All of these services remove your name for five years so it is definately worth the few minutes it takes to do it. Alternately, if you are lazy and have money to burn, you can pay $41 to have these people remove you from dozens of lists (and 1/3 of the fee goes to non-profits so they aren't totally evil capitalists.)