Dear Lazy Environmentalist,

How can I take the drudgery out of recycling?

Waste can be really devious, collecting in big piles in your mailbox or on your doorstep before you know what has happened. This phenomenon is called “junk mail,” and most of us have to contend with lots of it — about 100 pounds per year for the average U.S. household.

Don’t get bogged down under heaps of catalogs and credit card promotions. Instead let a company called Green Dimes remove your name from consumer mailing lists and reduce the clutter from your life. For a one-time fee of $20, your name will be removed from more than 90 percent of all junk mail lists. Monthly monitoring by Green Dimes will keep you off those lists for five years. The company will even counterbalance the ill effects of your history with junk mail by planting five trees in your honor.

You can also opt for Green Dimes’s latest promotion package — the company will pay you to use its tools to remove yourself from junk mail lists. The first five million people who sign up for self-service will each receive $1. Since launching in 2006, Green Dimes has helped liberate hundreds of thousands of people from junk mail. Now it’s your turn to experience the freedom.

But what about everything else?

But what about the plastic, paper, glass, cardboard, and aluminum that’s also found its way inside your home? Recycling these basics is still kind of a drag for particularly lazy environmentalists. Enter RecycleBank.

Residents in participating communities receive a large RecycleBank garbage bin for all of their recyclables. No need to sort, just toss it all in. The bin is embedded with a barcode that doubles as your account number. When the recycling truck comes to collect your garbage, it reads the barcode and scans the bin for weight and volume to get a sense of what’s inside. The recyclables then go on to a recycling center. When you log in at with your account number, you’ll see how much you’ve earned from recycling.

You can then redeem that value at more than 300 RecycleBank retail partners, like Bed, Bath & Beyond, CVS, Petco, Circuit City and The benefits of the program really start to add up: You earn money by recycling, your city saves taxpayer money from reduced landfill fees, the environment gets cleaner as recyclable products actually get recycled, and the local economy gets a boost from new jobs created at local recycling centers.

Welcome to the new economics of modern recycling: better for your budget, better for the community, and better for the planet!


Excerpted from Josh Dorfman's latest book, The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget.

Photo: Jupiterimages