Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tip 31: Shred it, shred it good

Welcome to mail week! When I talk to my friends about the organizational struggles that get them down, mail is usually at the top of the list. It's something that, whether you like it or not, you have to deal with six days a week (so I guess it's appropriate to start mail week on a Sunday!). I've adopted several strategies for dealing with the mail that comes into our house. Most of it gets immediately recycled. The mortgage statements get filed away in a special folder for housing papers. Then there are the credit card offers, which I absolutely hate. Here's what I do...

Tip 31: Make a "to shred" pile, place it on top of your shredder, and keep your shredder out in a space which will make you likely to shred often.

I am moderately concerned about security and the nefarious people who engage in identity theft, so I try to leave as short of a paper trail as possible. I've tried really hard to get myself off of almost all unsolicited credit card offers, but they still come through occasionally. I take out all the envelopes and additional papers inside the credit mailing and recycle those; then I find the papers with the numbers at the bottom indicating some aspect of my identity. I don't just want those papers in the recycling. So, I shred.

I used to keep my shredder inside our office closet. But then I had to get it out from behind some other stuff before I could use it. Now I just keep it in a little corner next to our office closet, and I keep it unplugged. Keeping it unplugged is not only a way to avoid vampire electricity usage, but it's also an extra safety precaution. Once I have a few documents to shred, I plug it in and go to town.

At ease, sir

I bought this Auroa AS660CM shredder at Bed Bath and Beyond back in 2003, and it has not let me down. (BB&B doesn't sell this model anymore, but it's similar to this one in size and price, and this new one claims to handle staples, too.)  It says it can accept up to six papers at once, but I usually play it safe and stick to about three at a time. I do not feel like buying another shredder anytime soon.

Ready for my close-up

What do I do with the shreddings? I can't just put them in my recycling bin. Most recycling companies won't accept shredded paper. I have used them as packing material when sending items in the mail. I have also thrown them away, because I ran out of uses for shredded paper. If I had a small animal, like the never-ending collection of gerbils I had in elementary school, I could use them as lining for the bottom of their cage. Or if I composted I could add them to that. I read that some people use the shreddings as a layer directly underneath mulch as some sort of natural pesticide. I might try to in the spring when we bring our herb garden back to life.

It's my time to shine...tearing through the credit card companies...

What have you done with your shreddings?

The most important lesson for me has been to keep my shredder easily accessible, and this has kept unwanted mail from becoming overwhelming.

But as I mentioned earlier, I have successfully cut down on much of the junk mail we receive, eliminating much of the need for shredding to begin with.

How did I cut down on junk mail? Stop by tomorrow!

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