I don’t remember exactly when my war on junk mail actually started, but I think I might just be winning! I had a family member ask me why I thought getting all those sleek catalogs was a bad thing; she likes being gifted with them so that she can sit and browse.

Did you know, though, that Americans receive more than 100 million trees worth of junk mail each year? According to a group from Harvard University that studies green living, the generation and disposal of junk mail aka direct mail for consumers uses more energy than 3 million cars. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans receive more than 4 million tons of junk mail per year, with more than 50 percent of it ending up in landfills.

What I remember most about picking my own battle against junk mail was coming home from work day after day and finding another pile of new mail next to the ever-growing pile of old mail. It was a dread — granted a small dread — in the grand scheme of life, but a dread, nonetheless, that was going to require time I didn’t have to sift through it all. It would take time I needed to spend doing things for my spouse and kids, like maybe making dinner, helping with homework, laundry or another something.

Really, go through it? Yes, since I had already thrown away in error a couple of important items that we did need, it really wasn’t a choice. So, at some point, I would just have to hunker down and ‘browse’ it all…or admit defeat, and let it take over the entire kitchen island or migrate to another place in the house to another stack never to be seen again or at least not for a very long time.

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But wait! I finally had enough. I think it was when I realized the incoming mail was multiplying faster than Tribbles. This is my house, I’m in control of what comes in and goes out, right?

Then why was I continuing to spend so much time to sort out mounds of what ended up in the trash? Not only was this a waste of my time, but a waste of someone’s resources of paper, postage, plastic mailing sleeves and fuel for someone else to bring it to my house. Conquering the avalanche could be one of my first steps in living green.

I decided to try getting off mailing lists and requesting those I do business with to not provide my information to other third parties. I have found over time that most have honored this. Then when I received a new unsolicited, unwanted catalogue, I called the 1-800 telephone number on the catalogue and politely asked them to remove me from their list. Only a couple were resistant to my request but agreed after I politely but firmly told them it would go in the trash unread. I also gave up on the idea of winning it big in the Sweepstakes entries or for free windows and quit signing up at the state fair or other festivals. I found online electronic subscriptions for my favorite publications, which also cut down on my paper pile.

I then turned to recycling the mostly paper, including newspapers to a local cause. Many schools, churches, and other organizations in our community benefit from their recycling bins. They have even added cardboard recycling bins for all those Amazon boxes.

So, it’s a win-win! They make money while I take back my kitchen counter and there’s more time for other endeavors. I like to think that I’ve also made a great personal step in being greener in helping to save the planet and home. Besides one of my good friends said she will share her flyer from the Amish grocery store with me, so I don’t have to subscribe. I wonder will it come by horse and buggy?

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