One of the easiest ways to reduce the amount of paper you consume is becoming one with your online banking system. According to a recent article from Banking Times, internet banking is increasing in popularity: 68% of individuals are using an online savings account and about half of Internet users use online banking. These numbers increased from 29% in 2003.
But paying our bills online isn’t the only way to reduce your own use of envelopes, stamps, and cheques; getting your bills online is the way to go a step further.
But if you don’t already use online banking, you might wonder why it is a good choice for you. So we’ll lay it out:
- Convenience: never closed, online banks are open every day, all day, in the comfort of your own home
- Omnipresence: no matter where you are – out of the country or in the neighbouring town – you’ve access to your account, perfect for if problems arise or checking for a deposit
- Efficiency: managing different accounts is easy and convenient in one secure site
- Organization: many online banking sites include different managing programs to help you keep everything organized and under control. Some are also compatible with software such as Microsoft Money and Quicken
- Security: if you are a little concerned, keep all transaction numbers, and print out anything you might be unsure about. (Yes, this is a potential waste of paper, but having the confirmation from your financial adviser or bank at the beginning might convince you towards this direction)
Really, though, security shouldn’t be an issue – or online banking would no longer be an option. If you’re worried, stick to logging in on your private computer, doing larger transactions in person, and checking in with your bank if you see anything suspicious.
Electronic billing with PayitGreen.org
PayitGreen.org provides a way for users to not just pay their bills online, but also get electronic statements and set up Direct Deposit.
According to PayitGreen.org, if 20% of households switched to using e-bills, a total of 1.8 million trees would be saved each year. And that’s just 20%! With more trees, we’d also get more oxygen – not just benefiting the environment, but our health, too.
This 20% reduction would go even further, by eliminating over 100 million pounds of paper that are sent out each year (and these papers go straight into our offices – inevitably taking up valuable space and for some, resulting in an unorganized mess).
Late fees will be avoided, credit rates will improve, and time is saved from scrounging through a pile of bills a week too late.
But reducing our paper use benefits our waterways, too – PayitGreen.org claims that 1.4 billion gallons of water would be conserved and with less paper to produce and transport, 103 million gallons of fuel are saved each year, and our air will be cleaner, too.
PayitGreen.org also offers a green calculator so you can figure out what your “financial paper footprint” is. We tried it out with a random number: within your own household, if you receive 8 bills monthly, and pay them all by paper, you can conserve the following in a year:
Paper >> 2.9 pounds of paper saved
Water >> 27 gallons of wastewater prevented from discharging into lakes, streams and rivers
Gasoline >> 2.7 gallons of gas saved by not mailing your bills, statements, and payments
Greenhouse Gases >> 92 pounds of greenhouse gases avoided
They also tell you that this amount of greenhouse gas is the equivalent of 91 miles not driven in your car, you’ll plant one tree, and protected 13 square feet of forest preserved from deforestation.
PayitGreen.org isn’t the only option – most companies also offer e-bills, sending you your statements directly to your inbox, or automatically charging your credit card or extracting from your bank account.
Regardless of the method you use, one fact remains the same: reducing paper is one of the easiest ways to give back to the environment, and eliminating our paper bills and statements is the simplest way to do it.
Check out PayitGreen.org for more information, and connect with your companies to see what you can do to reduce your paper use.
Image courtesy of icis.com