Ten Pounds of Wasted Paper

A few months ago I added a new element to my weekend ritual of shredding the name and address labels from mail received during the week. I weigh the bags before I put them in my trash hauler’s recycling container. Last week’s batch was ten pounds, including the unsolicited magazines, flyers, and catalogs on which the labels came.

Assuming the other residents of my condo community receive the same amount of mail as me, that’s just shy of a full ton of wasted paper, ink, postage, and shredding time coming in and out of one small corner of the world each week.

What a waste.

I’m doing what I can to go green, so I ordered the United States Postal Service “Handbook to Greener Direct Mail,” which came with a free 100% cotton t-shirt emblazoned with their “environmailism” trademark.

Here are a few tips from the handbook:

  • Build your list consciously, and scrub it regularly. I live in a condo but still get promo cards from lawn services and roofing companies who could have saved money (and trees) by eliminating condo or apartment complex addresses from their list.
  • Choose environmentally friendly paper. While there are many options, the USPS suggests you buy the highest post-consumer content paper your budget and function allow.
  • Reduce the use of plastics by using windowless envelopes.
  • Collaborate with your printer to make the best use of their press. Sometimes a slight change in a design allows them to produce more from each press sheet.

Are you schlepping ten pounds of wasted paper to your curbside every trash day? You can begin to decrease the amount of junk mail you receive by checking out DoNotMail.org.