Excessive Paper WasteDid you know that the average American uses approximately one 100-foot-tall Douglas fir tree in paper and wood products per year? Although paper and paperboard accounts for more than one-third of all recyclables collected in the U.S. by weight, one can’t help but wondering if all that paper usage is really necessary. We live in the digital age, which means that the need to keep or read paper documents is quickly becoming obsolete. In fact, there are many situations in which its actually more costly, and less safe to keep a printed copy of a document. In 2011, challenge yourself to go paperless with these easy tips for opting out of paper waste. 1. Phonebooks: In the pre-Internet age, people depended on the massive phonebook to find residents and businesses in town. When Google burst on the scene with blazing fast and accurate search results for everything from restaurants to plumbers, most people stopped using the phonebook. Unfortunately, no one told the phone companies. Most people still find multiple “free” phone books on their doorstep every year. BanThePhoneBook.org reports that up to 5 million trees are cut down each year to create just the White Pages and that taxpayers are spending $17 million each year to make sure these books are recycled. Opt out of the Yellow Pages by clicking here and entering your ZIP code. If other local phonebooks end up on your doorstep every year, visit their website to look for an opt-out option, or simply give them a call and tell them you no longer want a phonebook delivered. 2. Catalogs: How many times have you made an online purchase or entered a contest, only to find catalogs for the company or store in your mailbox a few weeks later? Catalog Choice is a nonprofit organization that believes you should be able to control what ends up in your mailbox. Instead of carrying these unwanted catalogs to the recycling bin, cut them off at the source. Opt out of unwanted catalogs by setting up a free, protected account at CatalogChoice.org. Through this service you’ll be able to find and set mail preferences for thousands of companies, including catalog mailers, financial services and phonebooks. 3. Pre-approved credit offers: Times are tough, and chances are you’re working hard to pay off the credit card debt you already have. Too bad the credit companies don’t care, and they continue to send “pre-screened” credit offers or dollar-a-day life insurance policies on a daily basis. If you’re tired of the soft hits on your credit report and the piles of unopened envelopes that can sometimes be tough to recycle, it’s time to tell them to stop once and for all. Opt out of unwanted credit offers by heading to OptOutPreScreen.com, the official credit reporting industry website for opting out of offers by credit card and insurance companies.