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Get Organized! Reduce Waste and De-Clutter With a Home Mail Center

How about a cooling rack for displaying cards and stationary? Photos from Better Homes and Gardens.1 / 3
Having an ingoing and outgoing mail folder can save you from clutter.2 / 3
Mail Storage Shutter3 / 3

Keeping up with the constant flow of bills, ads, coupons, credit card offers, fliers and phonebooks is a job that will end up piling up on you and your kitchen counter unless you have a good system in place to take care of it.

Before we moved recently, my husband and I had no system at all for processing mail and we ended up with little piles of mail in all kinds of random places throughout the house - a pile of coupons and ads on the bench by the front door, a bill to be paid lying on the kitchen counter with a newsletter or two, a couple empty envelopes to be recycled on the kitchen table and the rest we hadn't gotten to yet added to the pile of things we didn't get to yesterday. Honestly, it drove me nuts!

If this is a familiar story to you then it might be time to get control of the mail situation in your home too.

Step 1: Stop Junk Mail

More than 100 billion pieces of junk mail are crammed into our mailboxes annually and it all carries a pretty hefty carbon footprint - to the tune of 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses and 100 million trees destroyed each year, according to a report released by ForestEthics, a nonprofit environmental organization committed to protecting endangered forests.

Here are a few tips to shrink your mailbox's footprint:

•Sign up for ebilling or autodraft as much as possible for bank statements, mortgages, utilities, phone, cable and internet.

•Opt out of all those friendly offers of debt at

•Who needs to get catalogs in the mail anymore? To opt out of unwanted catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, donation requests, and other junk mail visit, Cox Target Media,, or Direct Marketing Association.

Step 2: Manage and Organize your Mail

If dealing with your mail means you have to walk all over your house, chances are it's going to end up in a pile somewhere in the middle and here's the strange thing I've noticed about mail piles: they attract more mail! The bigger the pile gets the longer it will sit there and continue to attract more mail.

•Create a one-stop mail station where you can immediately take care of your mail. Use a desk, cabinet, hutch, or a table - repurpose something you already own or check out or the local thrift store, it doesn't matter what you use as long as you designate a specific place and set up a system from beginning to end.

•Place a shredder and a bin for recycling in or within arm's reach of your mail station for recycling and empty them once a week.

•Organize your station with office organizers or vintage boxes, cans or tins or heck, cereal boxes decorated with pretty paper. Have a specific and separate place for unopened mail, mail that needs following up, and paperwork to be filed.

How about a cooling rack for displaying cards and stationary? Photos from Better Homes and Gardens

•Only file what you need to file and recycle the rest. I used to keep files of every single bill I ever received so that someday - - just in case - - I could check back if I needed to. Well the truth is most of what we keep in our files will never be looked at again - so get rid of it. If you really don't need it, get rid of it! Get a small file cabinet for your mail station to store what does need to be kept.

•File paperwork right away, don't put it in a pile - remember what I said about piles attracting more piles? A big pile of paperwork may take a good chunk of time to process but filing two or three things right away will only take minutes - maybe only seconds!

Cut down on waste, clear out the clutter and take back control of your kitchen counter!

To simple, green living,

Carrie Brusven

Changing the world, one home and office at a time.

"You must be the change you hope to see in the world." -Gandhi

Carrie Brusven is an Independent Green Irene Eco-Consultant based out of Moorhead, MN and her website can be found at Carrie offers Green Home Makeovers and "Go Green" Workshops/Parties to help you on your own path to greener living. Contact Carrie to schedule a makeover for your home: