To shred or not to shred?

Dear Andrew,

I love your ideas!
Should basic personal info like addresses be shredded or can things like addressed envelopes and magazines be recycled? It would help if I didn’t have to tear addresses off for shredding as some folks tell me I should.
Thanks for all your free support.
Juliet N.

Dear Juliet,
Thank you for your email and I’m glad you’re enjoying the class and resources!
I always shred offers for credit cards or other correspondence with account numbers on it.
I rip all envelopes in half and half again when I toss them in the recycle bin—it’s faster than shredding and I like using my hands.
I subscribe to one trade magazine. I get catalogs even though I try to suppress them—I tear of the page with my address and recycle the rest.
It is inconvenient, to say the least, to unravel ID theft—better to err on the side of being conservative.

The bigger action here is to eliminate ALL unnecessary paper coming into your home.
Get yourself off every list that sends a catalog or unwanted solicitation.
I keep a basket for junk mail that needs my attention.
I only save the letter or catalog cover that includes my information and drop it into the basket.
Then once a month I schedule 30-60 minutes on the calendar to reach out and get off specific lists.
It takes a little time but it’s well worth it to avoid the deluge of junk coming in.

Here are four more online resources to help manage junk mail and telemarketers.

This website is hosted by the credit agencies and allows you to opt out from prescreened credit card offers for five years. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 ensures that they must let you opt out of mailings generated solely by your current credit score.

Sign up online or by snail mail. Online lasts five years—snail mail is supposedly permanent.

Do Not Call Registry
The Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2003 doesn’t have the teeth we as consumers would like but it does seem to SLOW things down. Go to and add all your phone numbers: landline and mobile. After you’re on the list for ninety days, solicitors supposedly can’t call you unless you’ve already opted in on the phone call in some fashion.

It’s ALWAYS a good idea to ask telemarketers who is calling before you affirmatively reply when they ask you to identify yourself. I then ask them to remove me from their calling lists. Mail Preference Registry’s registry lets you get off the mailing lists of direct mail marketers. It costs them money to send snail mail so fortunately, leveraging their self-interest actually serves us consumers.

Do Not Mail Registry
Run by nonprofit, this is worth checking out, particularly if you want to funnel some of the pent-up frustration you feel at the loss of time and natural resources direct mail marketers cause in the world. A great way to turn anger into action!

2 thoughts on “To shred or not to shred?”

  1. Tina Marie Sabuco

    I want to thank you, Andrew, for all of the great helpful hints you gave me soooooooo many years ago. Every time I go to the mailbox, I am thankful for the small amount of mail I receive. You helped me clear the clutter in my life by making the clutter not even arrive!

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