Banks Waste Paper // 10.20.2008 at 11:01 AM
by Jim Pond
While there is large waste in mailing materials every election cycle, possibly the largest area of waste is in banking. Every month, almost every bank will mail a statement to every account holder. Some banks mail more than one statement since some people hold multiple accounts (checking, savings, mortgage) at that bank! On top of that, Mail Monitor (www.synovate.com) reported that over six billion mailers were sent out in 2005 trying to market new credit card offers. That was Six Billion in the US!
Most of the large mailing waste occurs at the very high level - credit card companies (like Visa, American Express, etc.) and the large national banking companies.
What can be done about this? We can send the message to our own banks and credit unions about our desire that they cut back or eliminate their mailing waste.
First, ask your banker if they offer online or electronic statements. Many offer this as an option since it does save them money. You can eliminate the monthly paper waste while saving your monthly statements in a safe and electronic format.
Second, sign up for removal of your name and address from bulk marketing lists. You can go to www.optoutprescreen.com and either choose to opt out of mailers for five-years or permanently. This removes your name from the lists of the main four Consumer Credit Reporting Companies that supply credit information. Most credit card mailers are for a "pre-approved" card and the information these issuers use is from these Consumer Credit Reporting Companies.
Finally, ask your bank or credit union if they do other environmental friendly solutions. Many offer "instant issuance" of their debit or credit cards. This means they don't mail you a card after you open an account or apply for a credit card. They produce them right in the branch and you walk out with them. This is especially beneficial with debit cards. They are required to mail your card and your PIN (personal identification number) separately. However, if they issue your card at the branch, you don't need either of them mailed.
There are a lot of competing banks and credit unions in your area. All of them want your business. Give your business to the one you feel is responsible AND responsive to your suggestions.
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