it's wednesday!

First off, a little bit of housekeeping is necessary.

Thanks to reader Joshua's comment on last Wednesday's post, I checked out Red Plum's website and removed myself from their mailing list. It takes "5-6 weeks" to take effect, and I'm watching you and my mail slot, Red Plum. There was only one grocery store circular I read, and it's available to read on their company website, so there's that. Anyway, on the Red Plum website, you click on Contact and follow the link to be removed from the mailing list. My next hurdle is the phone book.

I didn't watch all of President Obama's address tonight, but I did see the segment on clean energy and green jobs. I particularly enjoyed the jab at those who don't believe in climate change despite the overwhelming scientific evidence and the comment that even if you don't believe in climate change, it's not an excuse to continue wasteful practices. (Sorry to my napping boyfriend whose ear I cheered in.)

This week's issue of The Independent is dedicated to green subjects, interviews, and news. I'll let some of the features serve as this week's tips. Edward Cazayoux, a former UL architecture professor has some green building suggestions that save energy and money in the long run. I'm not here to mess with copyrights, so click that little link above and check it out. There are some interviews as well with four environmental guys in the area that I find pretty interesting. This city is really not known for its progressive environmental stance, but I think The Independent has done a pretty good job of showing that there is some action being taken.

This kind of brings me to add to what they've written about this week. If you're starting a new project, like renovating your home or buying a car or renting a hotel room, do some research. It doesn't have to be thesis-quality, but just get online and check out the greener options. Even if you don't end up choosing the greener route, at least you'd have a reason for it, besides just not knowing there are other options.

hold the mail

Tons of everyday mail is unsolicited. Advertising people (like me) call it direct mail. Consumers (like me) call it junk. Direct mail really can be effective, but it has to be done right. And most of the time, it's just not.

Since I moved I started getting my own set of weekly salepapers, known as the Tuesday Junk. Three times now, I have received four exact same letters from an insurance company, return-addressed from four different representatives near my house. After the second instance, I wrote a letter and mailed all of the junk mail back to that company. I also tweeted it and the company replied to me, telling me where on their website I could look for help.

But help it did not, as this week, I received another set of four duplicate letters. Hilariously, I already use this company and met with a representative today about some things I needed to take care of. I brought the four letters with me, and gave them to her during our meeting. She got on the phone immediately to have them stop sending the letters. It's a waste of money and a waste of paper. And since I already pay this company money, I didn't want them spending it to send me junk mail four times over.

So. Weekly tip.

Find out how you can reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. If you don't get a terribly huge amount, or you know which company it comes from, you can contact the company directly. While you are requesting to be removed from the list, you can also suggest a way for them to make their marketing more effective. I've also received multiple postcards for a home security system. The postcards were mailed to my...apartment complex. I'd suggest that they limit their direct mail to strictly homeowners. I suggested to the insurance company that they make sure their mailing radiuses don't overlap with each other, because I'm sure other renters here got the same amount as me and would just trash everything.

If you receive mail for a previous homeowner or renter, call that company to let them know that person is no longer at your address. I've stopped a couple magazines coming in because they were for previous renters. I simply told the circulation person that so and so wasn't there anymore, and I had no need for a Southern Poverty Law Center magazine, but thanks!

I looked on the USPS website to see if there was a way to stop junk mail. I found their Go Green page, and one of their tips is to update your address when moving. However, I find that doesn't streamline any mail, that just puts your actual name instead of "Our Neighbor" on the junk mail. Anyway, tangent.

If you want to cut down on the amount of junk mail you receive at your office for employees who are no longer there, check out the Ecological Mail Coalition. It's a free service that allows you to enter the names of former employees and your business address and they work to stop the mail coming to those people. I've done it for a few employees in my office and the last time I checked, the office manager had noticed a decrease in duplicate junk mail. I'll have to check again to see if there's still a decrease.

There are also ways to stop delivery of the Yellow Pages, but I have not tried any to be able to recommend any. And it's too late for this year as I received two copies of two phone books. A small and a large. Still haven't figured out the difference, or why they delivered two sets within a week. If anyone has successfully stopped phone book delivery, please share!

shop green new orleans

One thing I love about visiting New Orleans is walking down Magazine Street and checking out the little shops. As we were heading to Winky's, a retro shop, I saw a sign for UP/Unique Products. They have a shop in the top floor of Winky's and they have a ton of really interesting recycled products. I loved their vintage purse clocks, but most of all, I loved their melted Mardi Gras bead pendant lamps and lampshades. Nothing says Green New Orleans more than repurposed Mardi Gras beads.

I intended to buy one of their t-shirts, which are made from organic cotton and recycled soft drink bottle polyester and printed with vegetable-based inks, but they unfortunately did not have my size. I just may need to order one from the website. They are the softest t-shirts I think I've ever felt.


walk in, walk out, light off

This week's tip was inspired by my boyfriend and his geeky fascination with little projects around the house.

If you have the best intentions of turning off a light when you leave the room, but just can't remember to do so, you can purchase inexpensive occupancy motion sensors, which replace standard light switches. Simply set how long you want the light to stay on once it detects motion, then set the switch on auto. Now you don't have to remember to hit the switch, because the light will go off automatically. The boyfriend's bathrooms and kitchen are motion automated, making it convenient and conserving, since he rarely turns lights off himself.

Though I don't have kids or a foyer, I would imagine these would work well such a room, so when your kids come home at night, the light will see them safely in (before or after curfew!) My parents also always leave a lamp on in the house so when they return after dark, they don't stumble into a dark house. These motion detectors would help with saving energy while no one's home, yet still allowing light when it's needed again.

I've thought about getting one of these switches for my closet light, since that's the one I have the most trouble remembering to turn off, but since the switch is facing my bedroom, I'd be inadvertently turning the light on much more often than necessary.

new weekly feature

Happy new year, everyone! I apologize for sort of neglecting this place, but I resolve to be attentive this year.

I'm starting a new weekly feature, so each Wednesday I'll post a suggestion that is an easy way to make a green change in your life.

eco-cajun tip for January 6:

It would be nice if printers always worked as they were supposed to and we could always remember to check that we print double-sided or check to see if only two lines of an email signature will print on their own page.

But there will always be pages that print with one line of text, or one line of error code. Or the best, the pages that get slightly crinkled in a paper jam. And we can always toss the papers into the recycling bin, but following the Reduce Reuse Recycle motto, recycling should be the last option. Even if you try hard to reduce your waste, there will be times when you accidentally use extra paper. But a few months ago, I began collecting all the waste paper, found a slightly trashed binder in the supply cabinet that was probably on its way to the dump, and created a notebook.

I told a few coworkers that I would collect any almost-blank sheets of paper, and I have yet to come close to running out of paper for my notebook. It's such an easy way to see how much paper I've saved even from the recycling bin (or at least used before sending to the recycling bin.) I use it for notes to myself, notes during phone calls, to-do lists and notes during meetings.
Thanks to a printer freak-out a couple weeks ago, I scored enough paper to last my little binder into 2012.

So for no cost, I have a binder full of fully usable paper that keeps me from needing to use brand new tablets or notepads! Less paper in the recycling bin overall.
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