Depending on your generation minimizing a paper trail could either be something you practice automatically or an intimidating venture. A paper-free environment is already part of the thinking of Gen Z and Y and most millennials. But Boomers can still struggle with this task.
One of the issues for boomers is trust. There is something so secure in knowing that you can walk to a file drawer and find a hard copy of a receipt or invoice, exactly where you left it. The learning curve from trusting paper to trusting a computer and the internet can be daunting. The benefits of making the effort to go paperless, in many ways, are worth the results. It is an environmentally profitable endeavor with the bonus of a clutter-free environment. Here are some easy steps that add up to a big difference helping to reduce waste and making for a more organized home.
Easy! Lighten Your Load By Unplugging From Junk Mail
How many times do you walk out to the mailbox and grab the mail only to walk in the door and throw it all in the recycle bin? The EPA estimates that Americans collectively throw away 4 million pounds of junk mail a year, equal to a tree and a half per household and it costs $370 million to dispose of junk mail that has not been recycled. So if you are ready to save a tree and opt-out of junk mail here are some highly helpful websites.
• To opt-out of junk mail | DMAChoice
• To opt-out of credit and insurance solicitations | OptOutPrescreen
• To opt-out of Catalogs | CatalogChoice
These are all free websites however, at Catalog Choice for an extra $20 you can opt-out of Future marketing lists.
Easy! Convert to Digital Subscriptions
Try ordering your regular news and magazine subscriptions in digital format that can be read online or on your phone app. Choose the paper format for those magazines that you love the most. Magazines like Arizona Highways, Baja Edible of Tucson and Phoenix Home and Garden deserve a spot on the coffee table!
Easy! Scanning Your Files
Managing the piles of paper at home can be a bit of a learning curve but, you may just love the results. To get started you will need a paper shredder and a document scanner. The Doxie One portable scanner has great reviews online. You don't need the internet to use it. To scan a document simply load in one piece of paper at a time. The scanner creates a digital image. That image is loaded onto an SD card (the same kind of card that is used to store pictures on a digital camera) You can even bypass the card and use a USB port to load directly into the computer. Doxie now has an app and you can download documents directly into cloud-based storage like Dropbox for example. If your scanned docs constitute a small mountain, consider hiring a reliable shredding company to come to your home and shred on site.
Easy and Fun! Digital Pictures
If you have piles and boxes of old pictures, consider scanning them with a portable scanner like the Doxie listed above. After scanning the pics into your computer be sure to download an extra copy onto a flash drive and keep it in a safe or even at a relative's home! You will never have to worry again about losing your precious memories to flood or fire.
However, the challenge with the evolution of the cameras in Smartphones is that there are hundreds of good pics stored on our phones that no one else sees. One way to enjoy these pictures is through companies like Shutterfly that allow you to create fabulous memories by printing pictures onto gift items like cups, totes, Smartphone covers, blankets, calendars and photo albums. Another way to enjoy pictures without printing them is to display them on the TV screen or have them downloaded to a digital frame on your desk or counter.
Next level: Convert to eBills
Consider minimizing paper altogether by signing up to receive your bills in your email inbox rather than receive paper copies in your mailbox. Try a couple of bills at a time to build confidence. Create files in your inbox, one for bills and one for receipts, and use these to file as you go along. If you are comfortable paying online, either through bill pay with your bank or through the company's website, it will cut down on the price of checks and postage as well.
There is no need to go paperless all at once and don't hesitate to enlist the help of a techie friend, or relative. YouTube instructional videos can be very helpful as well. Take your time and enjoy the freedom you feel when an area is cleaned up of clutter. Part of the secret to success is to review what you have done on a regular basis so that you don't lose track of the new systems you create.
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