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Free yourself from paper clutter

Cassie Pence
Greener Pastures
Vail CO Colorado

For someone who is trying to reduce the amount of paper in her life, opening up the PO Box is a scary everyday errand.

Credit card offers, “SIGN THIS PETITION FOR WILDLIFE,” glossy postcards offering cable deals (I haven’t had cable in 11 years), but when the third Victoria’s Secret catalog arrived in just one week, I lost it. It was time to take action against this barrage of junk mail adding to the mountain of paper already in my life. I vowed then and there that I would seek out ways to reduce the paper clutter. Who knew lace panties could be so inspirational?

Junk mail is just the tip of the paper clutter pyramid. There are bills, clipped coupons, newspaper articles you intend to read, receipts from items you might return, business cards, yoga schedules and Post-It notes. There’s “lazy clutter” – paper you’ve tossed aside to deal with later. And let us not forget the paper that filing taxes and health care requires. The pyramid just grew taller.

From a sustainable point of view, reducing the amount of paper coming in by signing on for e-bills or viewing the yoga schedule online, will also reduce the amount of waste you produce and the amount of energy and natural resources expended. This is a good green thing. And then learning how to responsibly dispose of the “necessary paper” you no longer need, like outdated healthcare statements, is another positive action for the planet.

Living in the past?

Sustainability aside, reducing the amount of paper clutter in your life also has positive affects on the psyche. Certified Professional Organizer Ellen Galbraith, whose business High Country Solutions helps people organize, prioritize and downsize, says that general clutter in a living space is “a reflection of all the things you are not doing.” It’s the scrapbook project, the unopened mail, and even old sporting equipment, which can represent living in the


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