Thursday, July 1, 2010

Stop leaving a paper trail - By Trystan L. Bass

Green New Year's resolution: Go paperless.

Did you know that an estimated 100 million trees are chopped down every year to make the junk mail you and I toss into the circular file? And all the energy used to create and dispose of all the mail is equal to 2.8 million cars? Yikes!
Nobody enjoys those endless offers for credit cards we don't need, the dozens of extra catalogs (especially when we buy stuff online these days), and all the redundant paper that comes through our mailbox. But you can do something about it.
First, try signing up with the free Direct Mail "Do Not Mail" List. This should get you off some mailing lists.
You can also opt-out of credit card offers with the big four credit reporting agencies, also for free. And if you still get card offers, try sending them back, postage paid.
For catalogs, check out our review of Catalog Choice. This free service lets you sign out of many popular catalogs all at once. I've tried it, and so far, so good.
Finally, a good way to keep unnecessary paper out of your house is to sign up for electronic billing. Many utilities and credit card companies offer this service for free. All you need is your bank or debit card information and an email address to set it up once.
Then you won't have write checks (a paper savings right there), plus you'll save money on stamps. If you do your banking online or on the computer with a program like Quicken, e-billing is a natural next step.
While you're at it, you can file your taxes online too. This saves huge piles of paper. It's faster, and you can get your refund deposited directly into your bank account. Talk about green!

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