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Tips for Eco

Tips for Eco

Greendimes conquers your most hated enemy--junk mail

Hate your junk mail? Of course you do--everyone does. But the thought of picking up the phone, or worse, drafting a "to whom It may concern" letter to Big Business, USA, is ultimately more than you're willing to go through. It's easier to just recycle--or throw away--all those catalogs and once-in-a-lifetime offers.

The annoyance of junk mail--not the waste of our precious national resources--was Pankaj Shah's motivation for starting Green Dimes, a Web-based company designed to rid you of junk mail. "When I left my last start-up and took time off, I noticed this colossal stack of junk mail, " says Shah. "My first reaction wasn't so much the trees wasted but that I don't really want to deal with this. So I went to the Web site for the city of Palo Alto, Calif., where I was living at the time. It was a big hassle, and I thought, If the price was low enough, I would pay someone to stop this in a heartbeat."

For just a dime a day ($36 dollars a year), Green Dimes will contact every business and nonprofit that sends you unwanted mail and have your name removed from their mailing list. What's more, once every month Green Dimes will plant a tree in your name. The company estimates that we waste 100 million trees and 28 billion gallons of water each year just to produce junk mail people don't want.

Joining is simple: Set up an account and enter the names of every organization you'd like to stop sending you unsolicited mail. While Green Dimes is familiar with most perpetrators, if they don't recognize the company, they'll research it.

The only company Green Dimes can't wrangle is the worst culprit--Victoria's Secret. Shah says to stop the junk, you have to submit a request via their Web site to "decrease" the number of catalogs you get each month. And you have to separately request that they stop selling your information to other companies. The only way to be truly removed from their mailing list , he says, is a "30-minute phone conversation." So, with a limited staff of less than 20 people, Green Dimes can only say, "Good luck."

Shah already sees his company's mission moving beyond trees and water. For Malaria Awareness Day, Green Dimes donated 5,000 nets (one for each new member) to someone in a third-world country. Shah hopes this will be the first of many programs that help further awareness around a variety of global issues. Plus you get the satisfaction of logging on and watching the up to date counter of pounds of junk mail stopped, trees planted/saved, and gallons of water saved by the program.

But not all unsolicited mail is bad. What about the nonprofits that rely so heavily on mass mailing for their annual revenue? For Shah, that's the beauty of every member choosing which companies to blacklist. You can keep the good ones coming. Besides, without the stacks of mail to wade through, the charities might actually make an impact. Says Shah: "Ostensibly, we are making the list more valuable."

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