No More Junk Mail (Eventually)

June 30, 2007

We recycle paper, of course. But recycling paper is actually only a start. A better option for some of the paper we recycle is for it not to show up at our houses in the first place. Every day I stand over the recycle bin tossing in paper junk mail (including ripping the plastic windows off envelopes so the remainder can be recycled). Some of it is unsolicited, and some of it is duplication because Scott and I have both wound up on the same mailing lists. Into the bin it goes.

This may save some trees, but it does nothing to reduce the amount of fossil fuel that was burned to create and ship the mail to us to begin with. Today I added us to’s Mail Preference List, a free service that takes you off mailing lists so you don’t receive the junk mail you don’t want. I added both of us, and made sure that for the stuff we want, only one of us was included in the “keep sending this to us” section, to eliminate the duplication.

Other things we have done to eliminate needless paper from arriving at the house:

we read newspapers online instead of subscribing to hard copies. I pay bills online and where it’s offered, I’ve eliminated paper statements. I e-mail companies I buy from and tell them not to send me catalogs, as I do nearly all my shopping online. I save huge numbers of documents, but all in electronic (pdf) format: I don’t think we go through even one ream of printer paper a year.

We subscribe to a few magazines but for some that aren’t time-sensitive (like writing or gardening or cooking magazines), I now buy sets of back issues on ebay instead of subscribing to them new. This means that those copies of the magazines go farther before becoming recycling fodder, I’m not adding to the original print run, and because they’re all shipped to me at once, the fossil-fuel required to get them to me is reduced from where it would be if I incurred 12 shipments a year.

Next up — I’m going to audit my paper recyclables to see where the bulk of it is coming from and see if there are other areas where we could reduce.


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