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To save money on buying envelopes, take any pre-addressed envelopes that come in the mail that aren't going to be used and put white labels over the address. Make sure not to use envelopes that are obviously not suited to your purpose. Even the envelopes with the see through windows can be used. Just put the white label over the window part. We haven't purchased envelopes in ages!
By fossil1955 from Cortez, CO
I wholeheartedly agree with marinewife5, if you're receiving unsolicited advertising from a company you don't want to do business with. If they have to pay to get their junk back, you can bet they'll take you off their list and if enough people do it, they may be more careful about creating that list in the first place (and thereby save a lot of trees).
As for reusing instead of recycling: the three R's of green living are:
1. Reduce the amount of packaging, advertising, etc that comes into your home, then
2. Reuse everything you can (like backs of envelopes for scratch paper, and glass jars for food storage), and when you can't reuse it any more.
3. Recycle everything you can.
I don't get junk postal mail anymore but I do receive bills that always have return payment envelopes. I pay my bills by phone or online now and just hate the idea of throwing those envelopes away. I have started using them as shopping lists and place the appropriate coupons inside. Not only is the envelope being used for something but I also don't forget to hand over the coupons at the point of sale anymore.
In case you're wondering why I don't just get my statements online, well, I believe in having a paper trail to be on the safe side. Being on a fixed disability income, I have to be careful about using up printing paper and ink. Oh, and there's always the possibility of losing saved data on computers and backup disks too ;-)
By Deeli from Richland, WA
This is a great idea that I will start using. Thanks for sharing.
Here is an easy solution for all those envelopes that are left over from your bills. I now use bill pay for the majority of my bills, but sometimes I need to mail out a check or paperwork. Most of those envelopes have those windowpanes. I attach the address of the organization I am sending information to the inside of the envelope's windowpane. This also frees up my usage of my plain white envelopes. Recycling and repurposing, all in one.
By Georgetta from Waterloo, IA
You do need to blacken out any bar codes on these envelopes. If not, the automatic machines will read the code and return it to the original sender.
Recycling is really easy since everything is commingled together into one container at the convenient site. However, I don't put loose paper in the recycling bin.
I am a mother and a full time student working towards my college degree. I have financial limitations and constraints and I was always looking for practical ways to save money and recycle at the same time.
While I know that a lot of us use those return envelopes we get in our junk mail and simply place a white label over the printed address, I have been advised by my friend at the post office here to ALSO make sure that any and all barcodes be completely covered by a white label.
My favorite way to make lists is to recycle used envelopes. I just turn them over and write my list on the back. The size is great, easy to manage and take with me!
If you have been lucky enough to receive those beautiful Christmas cards, don't be so quick to throw away the envelopes. In my life the number of cards I receive varies from year to year, as well as how many cards I mail.
I pay many bills online. Instead of throwing away the window envelopes from bills, I cut out addresses or use labels to cover the window. I don't have to buy envelopes and I am not adding paper to the garbage.
When you receive some snail mail from a friend, cut off their return address and save it. Use it on the next item you mail to them. Just tape it to the package or envelope.
I remember seeing this when I had my regular job with a school district. One of the Pre-K teachers had small bulletin board pictures and game pieces for her class stored in a large brown envelope.
I save the envelopes that come with the credit card offers I receive almost daily. I use these for paying bills that I normally drop off myself, the dentist, for example, is just right up the street.
Save those unused envelopes with windows that sometimes come with bills. You can use them for your own personal mail by writing the address on a 3x3 inch post-it note (under or over the sticky area) and placing it in the envelope so the address is showing in the window.
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I like to re-use envelopes. I use a letter opener thing I got from an insurance company (a scissors will work) to neatly open the mail. Then I re-use the envelopes to write my "to do" list and/or grocery list on the blank back side. You can store coupons and receipts inside the envelope, too, which is very handy. I keep a little pile of envelopes just for this use near the phone in the kitchen.
Source: Source: my own idea
By Lee from Twin Lakes, WI
A great idea. I usually throw them out. So now I won't be doing that. Thank you
I have been using my envelopes in this same manner. I find it very handy to have my coupons in the envelope with my list on the back side. Thanks for letting others know about this. I also find it helpful to keep my gas receipts and my ATM receipts in envelopes which I date monthly and keep with my monthly records until I know I can shred them after they are recorded. (04/08/2008)
I too do this same thing. I also save anything from junk mail that I can re-use/recycle. It is nice to get something useful from stuff I'd have to just pitch. When those credit card invitations come, I tear anything off that is plain on one side to use for note paper. The return envelopes I save to use for grocery lists on one side and put coupons inside or I use them to send lunch money, field trip money, etc to school with my children. It's a good way to have junk become something you can use! (04/09/2008)
I used to always write on the backs too. I Like your grocery list idea and put your coupons in the envelope, I never did that but will now.
Reuse junk mail return envelopes as mailing envelopes. If envelope has a bar code at the bottom, you can run a black marker through the bar code. I always write a reminder on any box or envelope I use, such as "Go Green-Recycle" or "I recycle, do you?" If you get really irritated by all the prepaid junk mail envelopes, stick everything the company sent you in the prepaid envelope. Be sure you include your name and address section and mail it back to them at their cost! Write next to your name/address to remove you from their mailing list. Eventually they will take you off their mailing list even if you don't make a note!
By Tracey from Thomasville
A less mean-spirited way is to recycle the junk mail. The church near here is part of the Abitibi Paper Retriever recycling program with big yellow and green bins open to the public. Profits from the paper, magazines, newpapers, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, etc. go back to the companies whose parking lot is used. Look them up online.
Most websites will tell you how to unsubscribe to advertising mail. (05/04/2007)
I sometimes take the inside out, because it usually has some sort of a print on it. I then save these to my scraps of printed paper for making my own cards. (05/04/2007)
You and OhioGirl both have marvelous suggestions for recycling! I plan to start practicing your idea and looking into hers online. God bless both of you! (05/05/2007)
Consumers pay for those prepaid envelopes in the end through increased costs, so while this type of "revenge" may seem clever, I wouldn't suggest this route. Opt out, and/or reuse the envelopes in some manner. I shred anything with my name on it, and toss the usable envelopes into a basket, using them for my grocery lists, errand lists, notes to family and for to-do lists. (05/14/2007)
Using prepaid envelopes for purposes other than the use for which they were intended is against the law. It is fraud, and may be a federal crime.
You may throw them in the trash (I hope) or use them as toilet paper, but you can not use them as correspondence envelopes with the company who sent them or other wise. (07/25/2007)
After opening mail, keep envelopes to write shopping list or to do list. Then you can recycle. Also if there is paper inside that is only printed on one side, use this for scrap paper as well.
By Carol from Massachusetts
Editor's Note: This is a great way to re-use junk mail envelopes. Then when you go shopping, put the coupons that correspond to items on your list inside the envelope so you won't forget them.
Great idea! (05/30/2007)
Great tip! I do this all the time. Also much of the junk mail has a return envelope inside. I save all these in my desk drawer and use them to send lunch money or field trip money, permission slips, etc with my kids to school. I just cross out the address part and write on what it is for. These are also good for taking coupons with in my purse. I used to get so mad at all the junk mail that comes every day but now I recycle into note paper, etc.
Also, if you get those advertisement sheets, a bunch of them in one envelope, most of them are only printed on one side. These are great for scratch paper and grocery lists. I never buy any notepads anymore....I get note paper free every day in the mail! (05/31/2007)
Don't toss those USED envelopes, either. After all coupons are out of them, INSERT THE SHOPPING RECEIPT FROM THAT STORE INTO that same envelope just as your are handed it, in CASE YOU NEED TO RETURN/EXCHANGE ANYTHING, AND THE LIST OF IT ALL IS ON THE FRONT FOR EASIER READING/REMEMBERING. After a week, if there's nothing to return/exchange, use it unfolded in a bird cage or shredded for a house bunny's edding/toilet. Let's keep those brain cells working, right? LOL God bless frugal PEOPLE...... : )
File this one under, "now why didn't I think of that" for sure. All this free paper passing under my nose for all these years. Thanks! (07/25/2008)