Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Repurposing Bill and Junk Mail Envelopes

If your household is anything like mine you get too much mail. For us it's a mix of bills, credit card offers, and random stuff from people who sell our names. Once we move this year I plan on using one of the services that stops all your junk mail and plants trees. Until then I'm using the 8 zillion envelopes to my advantage.

When we open mail things go into one of 3 places. Things we need to file go into a pile to be dealt with later. Anything with sensitive data that we don't need to hang on to goes into the shredder. Non sensitive papers go into a recycling bag beside the shredder (to extend the life of the shredder). 80% of what goes into the recycling bag is envelopes that I fish out as needed to:

Keeping receipts- When I travel for work I have to turn in receipts if I want to be reimbursed for food and gas. Two trips ago I learned that pockets and take-out bags are not safe places for receipts. I'm missing once receipt, and of course it's for the most expensive dinner of the trip. No I keep a junk mail envelope in my bag and slip all of the receipts in as soon as I get them.

Grocery shopping-I've done this 4 times now and so far it works well. I write my list on the back of the envelope and put the coupons I want to use inside. More than once I've gone and and then left the store coupon in hand because I got distracted. It also saves me from using other paper.

Writing notes- This is more Gameboy's thing, but envelopes always seem to be handier than real paper when he needs to write a phone number or other random information.

Envelope Budgeting- For those of you who break you monthly budget into envelopes with cash this could keep you from buying (or maybe borrowing from work) new envelopes when you need them.

For receipts (and probably cash) I use the return envelopes that come with bills and credit card offers. Outer and inner envelopes do the trick for grocery's and note writing.

EDITED TO ADD: Two of the services I referred to that will reduce junk mail are Green Dimes and 41 Pounds.

18 comments:

Overwhelmed! said...

Great ideas! Now, I just need to convince my husband not to throw all those junk envelopes in the trash! :)

GreenStyleMom said...

What a great idea for recycling those envelopes! I've used the backs for lists, but never thought to open them up and use the envelopes inside! Thanks for the tip!

Amy said...

Very thrifty. We always mix up the credit card offers and send them back to the credit card companies. YOu know - a Citibank offer to Capital One and vice versa. But you are much more kind and gracious about it!

FrazzMom said...

I use junk mail for grocery lists all the time... At least it's good for something!

ttelroc said...

I always just adore it when someone has a tip that I have never heard before. It also helps when I think I can implement that tip into my daily life.

My husband is an envelope writer. He writes phone numbers, appointments, everything on the back of envelopes and then files the darn thing and we never know where the info has gone. Ahhh husbands.

Have a Great Day!
Kristin

L@SpillingBuckets said...

I normally just throw them out, but I like some of your ideas. Particularly the grocery/coupon storage one.

I think I'll start saving and reusing the envelopes.

I've never heard of a group that plants trees and stops junk mail, do they really exist?

Verry Sherry said...

ditto here. the envelopes go right into my scratch paper assortment for later use.
Just when I think I have no nifty ideas to contribute to WFMW, I'm reminded that something routine in my home isn't always the norm for most. though you and I are thinking on the same lines.

mydailydollars said...

Nice idea! I know I could use envelopes for all those things. I'm going to try it out.

sara l said...

@ttelrock- Gameboy has the same issue. I've gotten a lot of calls that start "can you go look here for an envelope that says Mike on the back." When I write on them I try to leave them in one place, usually the coffee table.

@spillingbuckets- here is the link. http://www.greendimes.com/gw/chooser. Its a little more expensive than it used to be but I think it's worth it. There is also a free do it yourself option.

@everyone else- thanks for the comments!

sara l said...

@spillingbuckets- here's another one: http://www.41pounds.org/about/

Meshellyn said...

My husband always puts whatever mail came to us (minus our name/address) back in to those return envelopes and mails them back. He wants to start a campaign that everyone does so. I guess he feels like if they're wasting our time sending us junk mail, we'll waste theirs too. The poor postal workers, I feel bad for them...

sara l said...

@amy and meshellyn- you crack me up.

Moving on up said...

Do you know the address or web address to get rid of junk mail by any chance?

sara l said...

I've updated the end of the post with two orgs that will help stop junk mail and plant trees for you.

L@SpillingBuckets said...

Thanks for the links.
::looking into it now::

I also like meshellyn's idea of mailing back the stuff they send to you. Haha, I don't think it would change anything but it would be oddly satisfying.

The Daileys said...

Using the back of envelopes that bills come in would be a great place for me to keep track of spending... a sort of subconcious way of reminding me to spend less, eh? LOL! Good tip!

Sanjiv said...

greendimes here,

strongly appreciate the mention and the providing the link. sign up for free and we'll plant a tree.

thanks again

Carmen said...

Teachers also love them! I am a kindergarten teacher and I (and my friends) save them so my kids can practice writing letters to each other. They love it and I don't have to buy envelopes!