Magazines and magazines and magazines… oh my!

nwsstndRecently I approached a few local drugstores and asked them what they do with their outdated magazines. (I was hoping to set up a program where I could pick-up those magazines or have them delivered to the paper recycling dumpster behind my kids’ school so they could earn money from the recycling company.)  Unfortunately I was told that they remove the covers, return them to the publisher for credit and are told they MUST discard them in the trash dumpster….OUCH!  TRASH dumpster, not recycling dumpster.

Sadly, this is the fate of many magazines.  In fact, about 60% of magazines remain unsold and are destine for this same misfortune!

I’ve also recently taken inventory of how many magazines make their way into my own household and, let me tell you… it’s time to make a change! We not only receive magazine subscriptions, but also print publications for every local organization we’ve joined… from the Zoo, to the Natural History Museum, to the Science Center!iPd mag2

There are definitely better options.  More and more magazines are becoming available in e-formats, digitally delivered right to your computer, iPhone or iPad.  Check or to see if your “favorite reads” are available.  For all those other publications, a quick glance inside (typically around the publisher’s information) will often turn up an option to actually receive the publication digitally… all you need to do is digitally subscribe!  And if you don’t want it, UNsubscribe or opt out!

I assure you, once you take a look at all those un-read magazines piling up, you’ll realize you can make a change too!

Things you should know about recycling paper.

paper stckNot long ago I wrote a post about whether or not pizza boxes can be recycled.  I quickly realized that this is only scratching the surface of a topic that often leaves us scratching our heads.

So while we all likely understand the fundamentals of a paper recycling, there is also some uncertainty about the details.  Here are a few things you (may not, but) SHOULD know!

  • DO NOT let the paper get wet.  Since recyclers purchase paper by weight, the entire lot may get rejected if they see wet paper.  Check your weather before it goes to the curb unless you are certain the rain won’t get in!
  • No food! Dirty paper plates, napkins, paper towels, etc. are, unfortunately, trash… or should go to compost.  But please, not in the recycle bin – they will quickly cross contaminate the other contents.
  • Do not worry about little things like small paper clips, plastic envelope windows, staples, labels, metal envelope latches or even notebook spirals.  Unlike food matter, they separate easily in processing and can be removed from the batch.paper recyc
  • Watch the adhesives! Heavily glued (sticky) items can ruin batches of recycled paper.  Don’t toss in those “complimentary” address labels and other stickers.  Post-It Notes are fine but if an envelope has a heavy self-stick flap, tear it off first.
  • Allow tape in moderation. Some tape here and there won’t hurt, but if a box is wrapped in yards of shipping tape, remove it as best you can.  Paper tape is A-OK!
  • Don’t shred paper unless you must – most recyclers don’t like accepting shredded paper because it’s a challenge to sort.  If you are a “shredder”, contain it in a paper bag first (or it can be composed!).
  • Skip the heavy-dye, saturated papers with deep, dark colors or fluorescents.  It’s difficult to bleach them back to a usable form.
  • No plastic or wax coated papers (like paper cups), but glossy papers (like magazines) are acceptable.
  • Consider dropping your paper at a local paper retriever site (at schools, churches or other non-profits…like this service in my area). You can be assured that your paper is being recycled AND it can benefit an organization by helping them earn money.

Remember, the EPA estimates that 40% of solid waste in the U.S. is paper products… shameful!  But paper can actually be recycled up to seven times, and it is easier and cheaper to make pulp from recycled fibers than from wood… awesome!  And one more tidbit to share:

Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees… and those 17 saved trees can absorb a total of 250 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year!

I hope you never look at paper the same way again… paper recycling rules!

Three thoughtless things…

… that have been on my mind…and just won’t go away, so here goes:

nwf-magazines2To the marketing department at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) – we subscribe each of our kids to one of your children’s magazines, because they are both fun and educational, but why, oh why (when both of their subscriptions expire in JULY) have you been sending us renewal reminder notices in the mail every month since DECEMBER!?!  We also subscribe because we consider it a contribution to a great cause but you are wasting a TON of paper on these mailings as well as eating up the money, in your expenses, that we are trying to contribute!  We get it; we’ll renew, but really… cut it out!  (Yes, I emailed them.)

To AXA Equitable that manages my 401K rollover – that Annual Report that you sent is like a New York City Metropolitan phone book.  I neither read it, nor understand it.  What a waste.  Let your clients opt-IN to receive them.  I want to opt-OUT of that unbelievable waste!… and I did!

To the knuckhead who tossed the trash out of their car window and into the middle of my street – are you serious?  Honestly?  You couldn’t find a better way to get rid of your trash? How about… oh, I don’t know?…. a TRASH CAN!  (Aughhh!)  You must know the guy with the newspaper!

(And to the sweet elderly gentleman who backed up, got out of your car, and picked up the trash before I could get out of my slipper and into my shoes – THANK YOU!  At least someone is thinking… and considerate!)

Did some senseless, thoughtless waste “get to you” this week?  Feel free to vent… you’ll feel better!  I sure do!  (….now breathe!)

Stop junk mail… NOW!

Over the holidays, I probably saw at least – (at LEAST!) – 50 catalogs hit my mailbox… what a waste.  Sadly, I didn’t use one of them.

But the start of a new year certainly has me thinking about reducing the amount of junk that hits my mailbox.  I can think of, maybe, one catalog that I actually used in all of 2008, so let’s stop it now!

Did you know that the average adult receives 41 POUNDS of junk mail each year?!?  That’s a lot of wasted trees and natural resources, and 44% of it is said to wind up in landfills, unopened!  But says they can change all that and block 80-95% of your unwanted mail.  Plus, a third of your fee goes to an environmental cause that you get to choose. The fee is said to cover the removal of these unwanted mailings for 5 years!… yea, that’s 205 pounds of mail we’re talking about!  Can you even imagine?

Catalog Choice is another service that allows you to say “no more” to unwanted catalogs!  This service is free and all you need to do is select the ones that you’d like (love!) to opt out of and they’ll tell the catalog companies “thanks, but no thanks” for you. That certainly sounds like something I’d like to give a try.

I also have a backlog of magazines that I never got to.  I’m sure they have information that I’d love to read, but will I really?  So maybe we should consider paperless magazines, sent directly to our inbox.  Zinio is a publishing company that offers digit versions of tons of magazines delivered electronically through email or to mobile devices.  Their list has over 200 titles and their Read Green Initiative is actually giving away free one-year subscriptions to some of the most popular mags too!

So, this year, spread some serious tree-love and say ‘no 41 pounds for me!’