Get Rid of 6 Months of Junk Mail in 20 Minutes

Yesterday, I cleaned my desk (hurray; I’m still in shock). My little tip of the week: how to get rid of 6 months’ worth of junk mail in 20 minutes. (Oh, you read the title? Sorry.)

First, I know you’re wondering, Why did you have 6 months’ worth of junk mail in the first place? Truth be told, it’s been at least that long since I’ve cleaned off my desk. Sad.

My desk is where we keep the ‘to be shredded’ pile. We don’t throw away junk mail with the slightest hint of ‘private info,’ including our ZIP code (another story. I’ll tell you that one someday. It’s funny.). We have a compulsive need to shred it lest someone find out we live here and steal our identities. That and we’re on the lam. (Not really; please don’t call the cops!)

We also shred the mail for half a dozen people that don’t live here anymore. Anyone know how to get people to stop mailing credit card offers, etc. to people who haven’t lived here in probably 10 years?

Anyway, it’s really easy to streamline the shredding process.

  1. Take all your envelopes. (You have all your junk mail in one place, right?)
  2. Grab a letter opener and slice each envelope open. Don’t stop, just slice.
  3. Once all the envelopes are opened, take out only the sheets that have your name on them. For most of them, that’s only the sheet closest to the plastic window. However, a couple (US Airways MasterCard, for one) also have your name and address printed on a second sheet. Do NOT extract the terms of the credit card, return envelope (though it is very fun to mail old tires with them), stickers, fliers, etc.
  4. Unfold each sheet as you pull it out (so it’s not too thick for your shredder, unless, of course, you’re using a wood chipper), giving it a little lengthwise tug to keep it open. As you go, remove any cardboard or plastic “this is not a real credit cards.” (I save those for Hayden.) Also try to remove the gummies that hold on the cards; these aren’t good for the shredder (or wood chipper).
  5. Turn on your shredder and feed the ready sheets into it. I like to do this continuously so that obnoxious noise doesn’t last very long. I was amazed that it only took about 5 minutes to shred a big ol’ stack of papers (my shredder has a whopping 5 sheet capacity!).
  6. Throw away envelopes and nonsensitive information.

It probably takes longer to read or write this than it does to get rid of all that mail. And I’m not just throwing out the “six months” number because it sounds good; these offers were actually dated to expire last October and November.

I also recommend opting out of credit card mailings in the US by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT.

UPDATE: Why you should always shred, not tear up, credit card offers.

Honking at people who are weaving in traffic—even if they aren’t passing me—also works for me.

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3 thoughts on “Get Rid of 6 Months of Junk Mail in 20 Minutes

  1. I especially like the credit card opt out. I was thinking this week about finding out how to do that. Thanks for sharing.

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