A month into my experiment and, in true fashion, I’ve gotten lazy. I blame IRC and Twitter for filling my online social needs, causing me to neglect my blog. I was supposed to post this entry two weeks ago, but here I am, already at the end of week six. Fortunately, I have been keeping track of the mail I receive; I just haven’t been publishing it.
Memorial Day in the United States, so no mail delivery.
- National Geographic Society renewal offer. As nice as the magazine is, I’ve let my subscription lapse, and I never read it enough to justify receiving it. I can always look through it when I’m enjoying some coffee at Barnes & Noble.
- PennySaver advertisements.
- Valpak coupons. I’m pretty sure I’ve never used one of these.
- Home owner association account statement and newsletter. I’d prefer receiving this via e-mail. The newsletter isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
- RedPlum advertisements.
- Renewal statement for Martha Stewart Living, which Mrs. sirhc used to receive. We’ve let the subscription lapse, along with most others. Who has time to read all of this?
- Advertisement for the 17th USENIX Security Symposium. I suppose this could technically be considered mail, because I’m a member, but I’d rather they just sent me catalogs like this via e-mail.
- Advertising circular for Dixieline Home Centers.
- Proxy voting materials for one of the companies in my stock portfolio. As I cast my vote online, there’s also an option to receive these materials online, but it wasn’t working when I tried it.
- AAA travel guide. I’d prefer if this was sent on request. We aren’t likely to be taking a vacation for a while. Not only that, but as stated in the guide, all of these offers and more are available on their web site.
- United Mileage Plus credit card offer.
- Local advertisements from the San Diego Union Tribuine.
- June 2008 issue of ;login:, the USENIX magazine.
- July & August 2008 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine.
- June 9, 2008 issue of Time magazine.
- Membership packet from the Zoological Society of San Diego.
- Water bill. Now I can see if they have an online delivery option, too.
- Solicitation from a dentist in Solana Beach. Technically junk, but it’s one of the more creative solicitations I’ve seen. It’s a kind of welcome-to-the-neighborhood card with suggestions for things to do in the Solana Beach/Encinitas area and includes a coupon for a drink at Java Depot. So I felt he was at least worth linking, even though my dental work can be done at a mobile dentist who comes to my office.
I do feel like I’m receiving less mail overall. This week’s score of mail 7, junk 11, for a total of 18 pieces of postal mail, seems to support that feeling. Real mail this week made up 39% of what we found in the mail box. That’s still quite a bit of junk.
One of the reasons I’m so late in publishing this entry is my desire to create a pie chart that would visually document the ratios of mail and junk I’ve received during the past month. I finally got around to entering the data into a Google Docs spreadsheet. Unfortunately, I didn’t weight the results by true volume, so the resulting chart is slightly misleading, at least depending on how one wants to interpret the data. While real mail did make up a plurality of the total, the circulars were physically quite a bit more weighty (literally).
This experiment has caused me to become more aware of the pointlessness of so much of the mail I receive, even from entities with which I have a relationship. Ideally, there should be a box I can mark when joining to receive everything electronically.
I was chatting with a friend of mine about this experiment, and he gave me one good reason why he prefers paper mail. Accountability. Should he ever need to dispute something with his bank or a creditor, he has records at his disposal. Records that are not easily tampered with. I find this to be a compelling argument. Unfortunately, I lack the storage space in my house for such record keeping (let’s hear it for modern development in Southern California). Also, as a side-effect of living in San Diego County, my electronic records will better survive wildfires, should one ever hit us (we’re actually in a fairly well-protected area).