Rock. Paper. Scissors. How Do We All Win?
Oct 15 2007

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the amount of paper we use and come in contact with from newspapers, magazines, bank/credit card/mutual fund statements, printed paper, kids crafts, etc.  I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time but either didn’t have the time or wasn’t sure how to approach the topic but after writing a first draft down on October 5, 2007, I happened upon a post called What Have You Done Lately? by Lorelle on WordPress the very next day!  Her post led me to Blog Action Day, and I though ‘Holy Trees Batman,’ this is why I am supposed to write this post despite my Bloggo Fears that people will think I’m nuts or possibly a Tree Hugger!  And now because of Blog Action Day I have found the reason to do this post today, October 15, 2007.

I was motivated to write this post because I have been attempting to clean up my home office and the paper shuffling has been at an all time maximum.  I like to make space and get a sense of openness before embarking on a strategic thinking endeavor…which I am in the process of doing regarding the future direction of Babble Soft.  Boy do I wish we lived near a beach…because something about sitting under a huge umbrella, staring at the ocean, and listening to the waves with a margarita in my hand would really help get my thinking juices flowing!  🙂

I have seen some things written about reducing the amount of paper used in office environments such as:

But I haven’t seen much written about how each of us as individuals can help reduce the amount of paper products we come in contact with on a daily basis.  I did see a post made by Tim Sanders called Redesign your reading life where he discusses ideas on how to reduce the amount of paper by changing how you read.

But what I’m proposing is slightly different.  I have been looking at the things we don’t necessarily read and/or need to have a hard copy of.  So here’s what I’ve decided to do, and I took action on the day I wrote the first draft of this post back on October 5. 

I finally called Pottery Barn and told them to take me OFF their catalogue mailing list for their pottery barn baby and PB teen catalogues.  I think I ordered one thing from them a few years ago and then somehow got on their catalogue mailing list.  Every time I would get them I thought to myself I really ought to tell them to quit sending these to me, but I was always in the middle of something or I said to myself ‘oh, I’ll do it later’ and immediately put them into our recycle bin.

Now it’s great to recycle but what if I hadn’t even gotten those catalogues to begin with for the last few years?  Would some trees have been allowed to continue growing?  Would the additional oxygen they breathed into the environment have had an affect on our heated discussions on global warming?  Would we have Cooler Heads?

Since I’m not a scientist and don’t play one on TV, I really have no proof indicating that this tree saving would happen but my gut tells me that reducing the amount of paper we receive can’t hurt.  Also common sense tells me that record amounts of rain and 100 degree temperatures being more common than not here in Texas this past year are probably an indicator of something.

It took me literally less than 2 minutes to call Pottery Barn, give them the codes on the catalogues and they removed me.  And you know what? She actually THANKED me for calling them to let her know!  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised because I was half expecting her to ask me why I wanted to be removed, try to convince me to continue receiving them, and/or convince me to order something.   Isn’t it funny how our assumptions of how we think something will happen might actually subconsciously dissuade us from taking immediate action?

So I’d like to challenge all of you to do something to reduce the amount of paper in your lives.   If you share in the comments what you did that might give others more reason to examine their paper-filled life.  If you are a blogger, I encourage you to post about this on your blog (please don’t feel like you have to link back to this post – I’m not writing about this for links) and let’s see if each of us making one small step to reduce the paper in our home lives can make a difference over time.

Canceling the catalogues to Pottery Barn was just the beginning, I still have a long way to go, and I’ll either update this blog or post about my progress in future posts.  Here are some other ideas:

  • Change statements (financial, bank, etc.) to e-statements if possible
  • Cancel subscriptions to magazines you no longer read
  • Encourage places like pre-schools and private schools to send you receipts by email if they can
  • Ask people who want to fax you something to scan and email it to you instead and then save it instead of printing it if possible
  • Ask the post office if they can quit sending those coupon pages, fliers, etc. that you never use.  I have no idea if it’s possible to have them quit sending bulk mail, but I guess it can’t hurt to ask.

If anyone has any other ideas, please share them!  If any of you have already posted on this topic, please let me know and I’ll update this post to refer to it.

One small action could quite possibly lead to a phenomenal reaction!  How will we ever know if we don’t try….

Author: | Filed under: environment, random stuff, success | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

14 Comments on “Rock. Paper. Scissors. How Do We All Win?”

  1. 1 Anthony said at 9:10 AM on October 15th, 2007:

    Saw your comment on ProBlogger and decided to stop by. Nice ideas. Pottery Barn seems to sell your address to every catalog company known to man. Stopping them will definitely save some trees.

    Instead of stopping all junk mail why not do what I do and compost it. And besides I use those coupons that they send me. 🙂

  2. 2 Joanna Young said at 9:42 AM on October 15th, 2007:

    Hi Aruni – found you from Liz… wanted to see how you’d overcome your blogging fears!

    I enjoyed this post, it was focused on practical actions that we can take. I’m with you – small things can make a difference, and gets us thinking about what else we can do.

    I was also writing about wasted paper today – I was on ways to reduce our word count so we use less paper. It wasn’t the most serious point in the environmental debate, but I hope I got the same idea across that we can change the way we do things for the better – not just for the environment but the way we live too.

    Best wishes


  3. 3 Aruni said at 11:56 AM on October 15th, 2007:

    Hi Anthony – thanks for stopping by and thanks for the information on composting. I had actually never given it much thought since I live in a city. My past experience with compost piles with friends in the country or in more rural-like city areas has sort of been well fly-filled. 🙂 I saw your composters…very interesting. I’d still like to quit receiving junk mail just as I’d like to quit receiving Spam email though!

    Hi Joanna – I’m glad you took time to write something for blog day. I think we can all take a lesson and reduce our word count not just for less paper but also for less information overlaod!

    Thank you both for stopping by. I hope to see you around here again! 🙂

  4. 4 Char said at 12:32 PM on October 15th, 2007:

    These are all great tips!! Thanks for stopping in today. And happy Blog Action Day – it is an amazing movement.

  5. 5 pearl said at 1:39 PM on October 15th, 2007:

    those are some wonderful ideas, especially asking the post office to hold the junk mail 🙂 I doubt they’ll want to take the responsibility of sorting out our mail to determine whats junk and whats not..

    and you’ll laugh at this one! ‘cuz i confess, even though I have all e-accts I still feel nervous not seeing the paper statement! me and my ways..:( I print less and less now though… like printing only the absolute essentials from a larger document and I try printing both sides of the paper too – a bit time consuming but if we all do these minimal things, I think should make a difference! what else?

  6. 6 Aruni said at 7:26 PM on October 15th, 2007:

    Thanks Char. I liked your post too!

    Hi Pearl – I am going to call the Post Office tomorrow to see if there is such a thing as not having bulk mail sent to us. There are certain accounts that I need a paper statement for but otherwise I have all e-statements…but there are some other stuff they send that I need to see if they can just email to me instead. Are you really an 80 year old man?! 🙂

  7. 7 Jonathan said at 2:05 PM on October 16th, 2007:


    I realize this is coming a day after BlogAction Day, but it still should be appropriate. I’m working with a coalition to make sure Congress sends the president a strong energy bill with meaningful changes for our environment and planet. This legislation would be a monumental step toward stopping global warming. Please go to and sign the petition if you would. Or at least become educated.

    Congress finally has a chance to pass meaningful energy legislation. The bill they are about to pass includes the best fuel economy standards ever (35 mpg by 2020) and a renewable electricity standard (15% by 2020) that guarantees the growth of renewable, clean energy. But there is a chance these two key advances won’t make it through to the final bill. This is our chance for real progress, don’t let Congress back down! Thanks so much.

  8. 8 Kay Rawlins said at 4:38 PM on October 16th, 2007:

    Hi Aruni
    Check out and to stop junkmail – I picked the websites up from an American Airlines mag.
    See you for lunch tomorrow.

  9. 9 Aruni said at 8:51 PM on October 16th, 2007:

    Thanks Kay! I will definitely check those sites out. I can’t wait to quit receiving all this junk snail mail.

    See you tomorrow!


  10. 10 Aruni said at 1:27 PM on October 24th, 2007:

    Just a quick update everyone (I’ll do a new post on this eventually) but I called USPS and of course they could not help me even a tiny bit. I have since called a few more magazines and converted one of my paper statements to an e-statement. I still have many more to call…but I’m making progress!

    @Kay – I found out that I’m already on the no mail list through a service I use called Debix – One of the executives is a friend of mine.

  11. 11 pelf said at 6:58 AM on December 29th, 2007:

    I am subscribed to the Readers’ Digest mailing list, and I have emailed RD to remove me from the mailing list but they acted as though they did not receive my emails (I live in Malaysia).

    I continue receiving notifications about contests (that I know I don’t stand a chance winning) and I have no idea how to stop them from sending me anything in print in the future.

  12. 12 Aruni said at 3:50 PM on December 30th, 2007:

    Hi Pelf, sometimes I think even they have no idea. I had thought I would be off the Pottery Barn mailing catalogue forever but it turns out they decided to ignore that request for the Christmas season. I have a couple more catalogues sitting on my desk from them! Go figure.

  13. 13 The Relationship Blogger: not a one-link stand » TravelBlog Archive » Family Travel said at 10:48 AM on March 14th, 2008:

    […] rock, paper, scissors. parenting a startup and kids are we there yet? when will we get […]

  14. 14 Give A Man A Fish, He Eats For A Day… | entrepreMusings said at 6:17 AM on October 15th, 2008:

    […] over 8 million readers worldwide.  Last year’s theme was on the environment and I wrote Rock. Paper. Scissors. How Do We All Win? on the topic of the environment and cutting down on paper […]