Earth911 honors 52 years of Earth Day with 52 Earth Actions. Every week until Earth Day 2023, we’ll share an action you can take to save resources, reduce waste, and make your life more sustainable. Paper is one of the easiest materials to recycle, but it still makes up the bulk of Americans’ trash. 25% of municipal solid waste in the United States is made up of paper and cardboard (also known as “cardboard”). Eliminating paper waste completely would require a Herculean effort for most people, but just like eliminating plastic, you can reduce your paper waste by cutting paper one category at a time. This week you can invest in the land by eliminating credit card offers.
Action: Cut credit card offers
We throw around 67 million tons of paper and cardboard each year and recycle approximately 46 million tons. Reusing paper by printing double-sided is good. It is best to recycle paper or even recycle it into fancy craft stationery. But best of all is reducing paper waste by reducing the amount of paper we use, especially if it also makes our lives easier. Reader’s Digest reports that sorting out junk mail could take up to eight months of your life. Spam (also euphemistically called direct or bulk mail) uses more than 100 million trees nationwide each year.
Americans owe a huge $925 billion in credit card debt. Much of this spending has been incurred due to the consumer culture that encourages people to buy more than necessary on impulse and then frequently replace their purchases through planned obsolescence of items like electronics and fast fashion. These purchases total approximately A quarter of the carbon footprint of the average household. Not only do credit cards encourage indebtedness and overconsumption, but they are plastic waste that cannot be recycled and is difficult to dispose of. Which is to say, most of us don’t really need all those credit card offers we get in the mail.
Cut credit card offers
Unfortunately, you cannot get rid of all junk mail in one step. You can reduce your mail load by signing up for e-billing and canceling catalogs, but eliminating credit card offers takes a bit of effort. OptOutPrescreen is the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website for accepting and processing consumer requests to accept or decline credit and insurance offers. Submitting their opt-out form online will prevent the four consumer credit reporting companies from sharing your address with credit card companies and insurance companies, either permanently or for a period of five years. (If you choose a permanent exemption, you will need to print and mail your opt-out form.)
To opt out by phone, call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688). You will be asked to provide your name and address to stop receiving credit card offers. You will also be asked for your social security number and date of birth. This is information that consumer credit reporting companies already have and is used to ensure they are excluding the right person.