Last weekend, there were several ‘door droppers’ in our area, each with a fistful of leaflets or pamphlets for distribution.
To our bemusement, one of these included a Labour party flyer, which was 2 days late for local elections that had already taken place the previous Thursday. Whoops!
In one of the ‘drops’, I received a ‘Look Local’ magazine (advertorial and advertisements for local services), a leaflet from a local tree surgeon (who must be making lots of money to afford to do such a lot of direct marketing) and a flyer from Domino’s Pizza…
Some people avoid junk mail coming through the letterbox by placing a notice on their property. I haven’t done that, but I immediately place all incoming paper in the recycling bin.
However, how do you stop more junk mail coming through the post?
The Mailing preference service (MPS) is a good place to start. Did you know that if you’re still receiving unsolicited mail for a previous occupant of your home, you can also register his/her name with the MPS? Although the MPS website looks outdated (with a 2015 date on its site), I checked in with them and they are still operating.
Royal Mail’s opt-out scheme also stops all unaddressed mail being delivered by the postman.
So far, so good.
What about incoming paper that you have to keep or want to retain? Well, you can recycle the envelopes as soon as they arrive (no need to remove the cellophane window).
Then, for me, I have a single place where incoming mail is collected. At the moment, this is a small drawer in my study, but I have used a wicker basket (currently full to the brim with our daughter’s revision papers!). The temptation is to leave things sitting on the island in our kitchen, but I do my best to whisk things away, leaving that surface clear.
For bank statements, bills and other correspondence that I may decide to keep for a number of months, I do have a filing system. It’s a series of A-Z box files that span the top shelf of a single wardrobe. I keep on top of its contents using my 3 S’s of paperwork.
Recycle or make gift tags out of them. Create new cards by re-using a cut-out portion of an original card.
Newspapers and Magazines
I don’t know anyone who still buys a daily newspaper; so much of our news is consumed in ways other than print media.
For magazines, online services such as Texture offer a one-stop shop, with the opportunity to share the subscription across as many as 5 devices, plus a number of features (including a search function) that you simply don’t get by having a physical magazine. Newspapers, of course, offer similar subscription schemes.
Notwithstanding the amount of advertising contained in magazines, when it comes to it, if you want some lightweight reading matter, there’s nothing quite like having an actual magazine to browse through. After all, you can’t take the iPad in the bath with you (well, you could, but understand the risks!)
Years ago, I used to have a subscription to Real Simple, a magazine that wasn’t available in the UK. I had picked up a copy at an airport whilst flying from the US back to the UK and really enjoyed it. The UK equivalent is The Simple Things magazine. Now, I don’t buy any publication regularly but it is a treat to receive a magazine as a very occasional gift.
The sharing economy in action
My late grandmother regularly received magazines from her next door neighbour. The latest issue would be left on the wall adjoining their gardens, kept secure under a small brick to keep it from blowing about.
At Warwick Parkway station, I noticed recently another lovely way of sharing reading material. A book share box at the ticket office exists where you can leave a book you’ve read and pick up another – for free. At work, we have a basket in the kitchen for the same purpose.
What else comes through your door?
Pieces of paper, envelopes, flyers, letters, leaflets, booklets and other forms of paper aren’t the only things that come through our door.
Consider the bags that are posted through your door for charity collections (these typically come in plastic packets – arrgghh!). Where we live, they come from local charities such as the Air Ambulance Service. I say use them! Go to your ‘goods out’ drawer, fill the bag and remember to put it outside on collection day. Note to self!
Carrier bags from online supermarket shopping deliveries can be returned (and you might get money back for them). We do hand back these carrier bags when we have excess, but we also use them to line the small kitchen bin whose contents go to landfill.
Gift bags, luxury paper shopping bags or simple brown paper bags should always be re-used. I keep mine folded flat in a large gift-bag whose sturdy structure is great for keeping all the smaller bags in good order. That’s a trick I learned from Marie Kondo: the best way to store a bag is inside another!
Too many ‘bags for life’? Again, use them or pass them on.
If you ever order clothes online, these will inevitably come in a lightweight plastic bag. These are more difficult to re-use but I have done so whenever I’ve gone through a phase of eBay-ing unwanted items. Do you have any useful ways to re-use such bags?
And simply don’t buy food bags such as sandwich or freezer bags.
Maintain the habit
By implementing some of these ideas, you’ll certainly help keep the clutter – and the associated stress – down. Maintaining the habit of putting things away certainly helps when you need to retrieve something in the future and setting aside time to do your ‘family admin’ supports this goal.
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