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How to Banish Junk Mail

Catalog Choice is a similar, free service that just focuses on catalogs. But according to this report in Business Week, the Direct Marketing Association is encouraging its members to essentially blow off this group's requests. The DMA wants them to steer consumers instead to its own opt-in lists, which are cumbersome and confusing. No surprise there.

In addition to real-world spam there is all the mail we get that isn't junk, but that we don't really need. Those monthly snapshots we get from our bank or brokerage are obsolete by the time they land on our doorstep. Instead, you can get real-time shots of your checking account at the ATM machine or of your portfolio online, where you're probably doing most of your transactions anyway.

The PayitGreen Alliance is a group of financial services companies, including Bank of America (BAC), Capital One (COF) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM), that "encourages consumers to turn off the paper in their financial lives" by using direct deposit and receiving financial statements and paying bills electronically. It reports that the average household receives 19 pieces of mail related to their personal finances each month and makes seven paper payments, which uses up 6.6 pounds of paper and just under one tree.

That might not sound like much, but it adds up. If just 2% of U.S. households (about 2.3 million) got out from under this paper, it would save more than 15 million pounds of paper, 181,000 trees and 196,000 tons of greenhouse gases. The organization has a calculator on its Web site that lets you tally the eco-impact of your financial mail.

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