I’m not sure why, but “mail time” is a big deal in our house.  When my son was younger and I was trying to think up kid-friendly chores for him to do, getting the mail and bringing it into the house was a favorite of his, especially if he was expecting a card with money from his aunt & uncle or his grandparents.  Even my husband will regularly ask me “did anyone get the mail today”?

To be honest, checking the mailbox is not high on my list of priorities.  In fact, it’s kind of a pain.  Just yesterday, my husband brought the mail in and tossed it onto the kitchen counter.  Apparently, “getting” the mail is his job while actually “opening” the mail is mine.  So I asked him, “Are you looking for anything in particular?”  He wasn’t.

There were nine (9) pieces of mail in that batch and guess how much of it was actual, usable mail?  Just one piece, an explanation of benefits from the insurance company regarding my husband’s recent checkup, was worthwhile.  I have even asked the insurance company if they could email me the document but apparently there are privacy issues.  That makes sense.  What about the rest of the mail?

One was a freebie flyer/newspaper thing that was basically filled with classified advertisements.  There was an oil change postcard, two (2) credit card offers, a flyer from a store I haven’t shopped at for a couple of years, a postcard for a fireplace cleaning (I do not have a fireplace), a survey of some sort and a newsletter from the local library.  Except for ONE single piece of paper, everything else had to be recycled.  What a waste of time, postage and paper.

Even though I held on to my “old school” ways of writing checks and mailing them in with the invoices, I have finally embraced the Internet age and I do most things online.  I can balance my checkbook, deposit money into my son’s school lunch account, and pay all my bills online.  Come to think of it, I can turn to the Internet to get the weather updates, download coupon codes, shop, touch base with friends, and even be entertained.  Yes, I do like to read an actual book from time to time, but that’s what libraries and Barnes & Noble are for.

Consider these staggering statistics from

  • 41 pounds of junk mail is sent to each adult citizen annually.  Do you know that 44% of that goes into the landfill without even being opened?
  • 100 million trees are sacrificed each year to create junk mail.
  • The ink in junk mail has high concentrations of metal, making it very difficult to recycle.
  • Creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.

What can you do to help put a stop to this insanity?

  • Most utility companies will allow you to now pay online.  Their websites are secure and many offer this service for free.
  • Most cell phone companies allow you to pay your bill right from your phone.  No paper necessary.
  • If you have a recurring payment (like my car insurance payment), you might consider automatic payments from your checking account.
  • If you receive a catalog or postcard from a company that you’d like to stop, call the company phone number and request to be removed from their mailing list.
  • The Direct Marketing Association has a free service that will stop junk mail from coming to your mailbox.  Visit their website and create a free account.
  • If all of that fails, take a black Sharpie and write RETURN TO SENDER or REFUSE across the front and drop it back into the mailbox.  This will certainly get someone’s attention.

Take charge of your inbox, reduce the amount of paper in your home and find better ways to spend your time.  You’ll be saving trees and reducing harmful gas emissions.  If every person got involved, think of the impact we could have.

For more information on this environmental threat, visit

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