Like many people, I have paper problems. Paper that I do not want but cannot throw away for security reasons accumulates to the point where there’s too much to easily shred, and on top of that Coco hates my shredder. I kid you not:
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So, my default pattern has been to simply fill boxes and empty dog food bags with the unwanted, unshredded paper and let it accumulate. Silly me; I figured I’d “get around to shredding it one of these days.”
Riiiight.
Not surprisingly, in the past eight years, “one of these days” just never seemed to come around. The accumulation of unwanted paper had become unbearable, just in my way. Paper has a way of making you feel trapped. Cornered.
A lot of it is simply junk mail. I get a lot of junk mail — especially the kind I don’t feel comfortable throwing in the trash.
I’m not alone. Junk mail is a
national problem of vast proportions:

The amount of paper junk mail sent each year in the USA is staggering — some 4 million tons, nearly half of which is never opened. Even if you recycle there are still enormous environmental costs in terms of ink, energy to produce deliver and recycle the paper, recycling inefficiencies and loss of virgin forest to create the high quality glossy paper much junk mail uses.

I haven’t fact-checked these claims, here’s one that’s even scarier:

AMERICANS RECEIVE 77 BILLION PIECES OF JUNK MAIL ANNUALLY or THE AVERAGE AMERICAN WILL SPEND EIGHT MONTHS OF THEIR LIFE HANDLING JUNK MAIL.

You’d think the junk mailers would compensate people for their time, wouldn’t you?
Aside from the human inconvenience angle, from an environmental standpoint junk mail just plain sucks. I’m no greenie weenie (and I’m against the government getting involved), but is this really necessary?

More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail….
…Creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 2.8 million cars…..
…About 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle junk each year….
…You waste about 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail.

So what are you supposed to do?
One rather bizarre project I don’t quite understand transforms junk mail into spam. Or if you’re like this enterprising young Scotsman, you can enjoy countless hours plotting retaliatory schemes against the junk mailers (link):

There’s also “How To Stop Junk Mail And Get Revenge” (link):

Fun! He argues that the more people do this, the more likely they are to stop sending unsolicited junk. Actually, I think the more people do this, the more likely the direct marketers will be to persuade Congress to make it illegal to engage in retaliatory or vexatious mailings (if they haven’t already).
Really, though. Sometimes it’s as if your mailbox has become a free-for-all commercial littering zone at your expense.
One thing that seems clear is that the Postal System isn’t about to do anything to stop it:

According to the USPS and other organizations, the Post Office receives anywhere between 50 to 80 percent of its revenue from junk mail.

So maybe it’s good for the national economy or something. I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s incredibly inconvenient.
Fortunately, today I was lucky enough to learn about NBC10’s Great Shredder Event, which was held today at Rose Tree Park in Media, PA.
I drove right in, and there they were — waiting to help:
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The shredding was done absolutely free by Iron Mountain Secure Shredding, in trucks like this one, which shredded mine:
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An Iron Mountain staffer came to my car and dumped my boxes and bags of paper into bins which were wheeled to the truck, then hoisted inside and dumped into the hopper.
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A TV monitor lets you watch the entire process:
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I had two bins full of paper, which had weighed the car down on the drive to the event. Not only did the car feel lighter, but I felt incredibly liberated on the drive back.
Just think. In the old days people got to use fire!