Paxton Ramsdell, major gifts manager at The Nature Conservancy
By Paxton Ramsdell
The cliché with mail is that it’s either junk or bills. As a recent college graduate, I quickly learned how true this is. Everyday I would collect my mail and leave it on my coffee table… where it would remain until I realized I needed to make a payment.
Of course, I eventually grew tired of the stack of mail sitting around, not to mention concerned that I would forget to pay a bill. Plus, my work at The Nature Conservancy made it even more difficult to turn a blind eye to all of this wasted paper.
So, I decided to do away with my bills altogether. Well, not quite. But, I did banish paper bills from my coffee table — and my life.
I had noticed reminders in my monthly bills that I could receive statements online instead of by mail. So I gave it a try.
I started with my bank statements. Instead of a monthly paper statement — which was no longer accurate by the time I received it anyway — I began receiving monthly emails alerting me that my bank statement was ready. Now I log in to my account online to quickly and easily balance my finances.
Next, I did away with my monthly cell phone bill by setting up an automatic bill pay on my provider’s Web site. After a few months, I realized just how convenient, easy and safe it is to use e-bills.
Encouraged, I said “goodbye” to my utility bills and credit card payments in the same fashion. At the end of each month I just go online and see that my account has been charged and the payment received.
I also could have just as easily decided to consolidate all of my bill paying by setting up online bill pay with my bank. No need to worry about late fees, buying stamps or losing bills under that pile of supermarket circulars.
One concern about going paperless was the safety of my accounts. I took a quick look around my bank’s web site and learned that I was well protected against any unfair charges.
Many banks offer zero liability policies, which means the banks will replace any money stolen as a result of unauthorized activity, but be sure to check with your bank for their specific policies.
Going paperless is one of the easiest ways to green your lifestyle. Aside from the convenience, it’s environmentally responsible.
If only one in five households switched to electronic bills, statements and payments, the collective impact would save 151 million pounds of paper, avoid filling 8.6 million garbage bags and eliminate 2 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
So go paperless, save a forest and free up some space on that coffee table!
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not represent those of The Nature Conservancy.January 17, 2012