It’s so exciting getting mail, isn’t it? Opening your mailbox and pulling out a nice fat stack, giddily taking it inside and sitting down to carefully open each one, only to find bills, bills, junk mail, bills — wait! A letter! Oh, it’s for the previous occupant. More bills …

This scenario used to happen to me pretty much every single mail day. But recently I have found a simple way to combat this epic cycle of mailbox disappointment.

Image courtesy of Cindy Cornett Seigle.


This strategy is useful not only for preserving your tender feelings, but also for taking a huge step toward reducing waste, saving trees, and cutting back on carbon emissions. And, like all truly great things in life, it can be accomplished while wearing your pajamas, with little more than the click of a mouse button.

According to environmental organization PayItGreen, each household that switches to paperless billing can save as much as 171 pounds of greenhouse gases, 4.5 gallons of gasoline, and 63 gallons of water each year. Not to mention saving 10% of a tree — and considering each tree can take decades to grow, that’s no small thing.

By going online and opting to receive an e-bill instead of a traditional paper bill for every single one of your accounts — from utilities like heating, gas, and water to your student loans and bank account statements — you are taking a simple yet very effective step to cut down on paper waste and also reduce the amount of clutter coming into your home. Imagine if you could actually see your front hall table rather than having to sift through a mountain of half-opened envelopes and past-due notices?

Switching to e-billing saves resources. Image courtesy of Martin Eckert.

Most bill providers offer an easy-to-access online account option where you can choose paperless billing — and increasingly, you may even be able to save some money each month by doing so! Many companies now charge for the privilege of wasting all that paper, and savvy customers can access savings of anywhere from $2 to $4 a month for choosing an e-bill rather than a traditional paper bill.

Accessing your bills online by creating a user account also allows you to free up some space in the filing cabinet, easily view account history and previous bills, and even make administrative changes — no more waiting on hold for 45 minutes just to change your address! It’s truly a win-win.

If you are ready to make the switch and you’re not quite sure how to start, try contacting the customer service department of your bill provider. They will be able to help you, direct you to the right spot to make the change, and reduce monthly charges if applicable.

The only problem that remains is what to do with your now completely empty mailbox. Modern art sculpture? Flower pot? Time to get creative!

Feature image courtesy of amanda

By Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.