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How to Banish Junk Mail

I used to stand over my recycling bin when I sorted my mail. Most of it went right in there as soon as it left my mailbox. More still, like monthly statements telling me how much my mutual funds are making (or, of late, losing) went directly to the shredder.

There's less waste landing in my mailbox than there once was because I figured out that cutting down on my mail saves a few trees and also gets some of the clutter out of my life.

It's easier than ever to stop junk mail like catalogs from reaching you. And you can receive financial statements and bills online -- and pay them electronically, too.

In 2005, Americans collectively received 100 billion pieces of junk mail. It takes 100 million trees to make the paper for all those catalogs and credit card offers, according to the Ohio EPA. And less than 36% of third-class mail is recycled, according to the EPA.

I signed up a year ago with 41 Pounds, a service that takes its name from the amount of junk mail most of us get each year. I paid $41 for five years to have the not-for-profit contact 20 to 30 direct-mail houses on my behalf. For some catalogs that required my signature to remove my name, they sent pre-addressed form postcards that I filled out and forwarded.

It took maybe six months, longer than I would have liked, to see a real change, but I can't remember the last time I received a credit card offer from a financial company I didn't already do business with. And lately I receive maybe three catalogues a month -- all from companies I did business with after I signed up for the service.

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