According to 41pounds.org, the production of junk mail destroys more than 100 million trees and wastes about 28 billion gallons of water every year. Even recycling old paper requires nauseating amounts of fresh water.
The solution to this is as simple in practice as it is in theory: Going paperless.
Many people complain about the constant influx of paper into their homes. Credit card offers, catalogs, bills, insurance forms, charity solicitations and more show up in mailboxes on a daily basis. In addition, lots of other papers have to be reviewed and kept such as medical records, receipts, coupons, articles and magazines. Avoiding drowning in insidious piles of paper and doing the environment a favor can be combined – simply by moving everything into the digital world and cancelling the junk mail.
Reduce the amount of mail you receive by opting out of junk mail and catalog lists. There are a number of services that help you manage your inbox mail and if you wish, delete your name from mailing lists. DMA Choice for example divides your mail into four categories: Credit Offers, Catalogs, Magazine Offers and Other Mail Offers. You can request to start or stop receiving mail from individual companies within each category—or from an entire category at once.
Sign up to receive electronic bills and statements. Instead of receiving paper statements each month, companies send electronic statements and bills to your email. Entities offering electronic statements include banks, cable companies and utility companies.
Sign up for e-statements and e-bills by registering on each company’s website. In this digital age, it’s not always possible to get the email address we desire from Gmail or Hotmail for example. So particularly if you’re a business, it makes sense to pick up a more unique email domain from 1&1 as a specialist provider.
Scan all the documents you need to keep and store them electronically on a computer hard drive. Scanning old papers saves space and reduces clutter. Set up a system for labelling documents and maintain consistency as you label and scan your files, as otherwise finding them again may become difficult. Create and save a master document that helps you navigate your online filing system.
When cooking something you found online, resist the temptation to print out the recipe. Using a tablet propped against your window frame will do the job just as well. Try using your mobile devices for calendar entries and notes. It might seem insubstantial at first, but if you continue long term, you might be surprised at how much less paper you had to throw away.
Of course, there are still sectors in which the usage of paper is without alternative at the moment. When having to print, there are also ways of doing it sustainably.
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