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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Broken Crayons Begone (Responsibly)!

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs and the cost of building this business at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.



Today we are going to talk about how to recycle crayons properly. Here is the step by-step-process to help you get those broken crayons recycled and keep them out of the landfill.

  • First, create a place for a shipping envelope filled with unwanted junk mail envelopes, with the color marked on the envelope for each color. Apparently black, purple, and blue are hard to sort, so the sorting is optional, but a nice gesture.
  • Try to leave the wrappers on the crayons to help with sorting colors, if possible. 
  • Second, when the envelope is full, seal each envelope.
  • Third, seal with plastic-free tape
  • Fourth, weigh the package or use a flat rate envelope from the post office.
  • Fifth, address the box/pay for postage to the current crayon recycling facility.
  • Sixth, send to the Crazy Crayons Recycle Program.
  • Seventh, (assuming you need to replace your crayons) buy all-natural, plastic-free, bio-degradable older kid beeswax crayonsbeeswax crayons or soy crayons for my vegan friends. Or go ahead and make your own beeswax crayons/recycle old 100% beeswax crayons (the steps are the same if you are using crayons made with only beeswax & not other waxes, just chop up your old crayons instead of the wax and soap) if you have access to good quality beeswax:
  1. Gather 1 oz of beeswax and 1 oz of inexpensive bar soap, along with your all-natural food coloring or DIY the dye from food.
  2. Chop up beeswax into pieces and grate soap. Melt the soap and beeswax in a mason jar in a pan of water. Watch the mixture closely and keep it on Medium-Low. You do not want it to boil or it will foam up putting air bubbles in your crayons. If this does happen, let it set for a couple of minutes, gently stirring to remove air bubbles. 
  3. When the soap and beeswax have melted, divide the hot liquid before adding colors.  Carefully mix in color. The more of the food coloring you add, the more vibrant the color will be.
  4. Lightly grease the mold you will be using to pour the liquid into. Possible molds are ice cube trays, mini muffin pans, or soap molds.
  5. Pour the melted mixture into your mold and allow to dry completely. If the crayons have become chunky and you are using an oven safe mold, pop them in a 350 oven for a few minutes to melt a bit. Be careful not to let them go too long or they will begin to foam up and create air bubbles.
  6.  Remove from mold and color away.
Here's to keeping crayons out of the landfill and keeping your crayons all natural.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Never Worry About Junk Mail Again!

The links in the post below may be affiliate links that support our current homesteading needs and the cost of building this business at no additional cost to you! Read the full disclosure to learn more and find out what your purchases are supporting.

I don't know about you, but one of the most frustrating parts of my day is bringing in the mail. I open the front door, one arm full of UG3 and let UG1 open the door.  We walk down our porch steps and open the front gate. UG1 begs to get the mail, so I let her grab it.

I double check the box, since she can barely reach in the box and often misses pieces of mail about half of the time. Sure enough, she got the Redplum catalog, but missed the letter sized mail. I hand the rest of the mail over to UG1, who is jumping up and down with all of her 4 year old might. She takes it inside and hands it to me to look it over. Sure enough, it's a bunch of junk. Not one letter, not a package, and not even a bill.

If this sounds like your situation too, then let's tackle this junk mail step by step.  We'll do USA tips first, then tips for our UK friends across the pond.


For the USA:
  • First, opt out of Yellow Pages- Based on your zip code, the system will identify which subscriptions you may receive and offer you the option to opt out.
  • Second, use the DMAchoice, an online tool developed by the Direct Marketing Association, it will help you: 
- have your name removed from the lists companies use to find new customers or donors, and magazine publishers use to find new subscribers,
- stop receiving catalogs from companies you haven't purchased from or magazine offers from publishers you haven't subscribed to,
- stop receiving mail offers from companies you haven't donated to or purchased from.
  • Third, use OptOutPrescreen, a centralized service to accept and process requests from consumers to opt-in or opt-out of firm offers of credit or insurance. It offers two options: 
- electronic opt-out for five years: your name will not be eligible for inclusion on lists used for firm offers of credit or insurance for five years.
- permanent opt-out by mail: your name will no longer be eligible for inclusion on lists for firm offers of credit or insurance (in order to complete your permanent opt-out election, you must print and mail the permanent opt-out election form).
  • Fourth, use Catalog choice, a free service to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more. They don't have all companies in their listings though. The process is pretty simple: 
- you receive unwanted mail: unwanted catalogs, coupons and credit card offers, donation requests, and other junk mail arrive daily and clutter your home or office,
- you report it to them: you can simply log in to create a free account and register your opt-outs online. Just search for the company, and submit the opt—out,
- they'll take it from there: they act on your behalf to protect your consumer rights and get your opt-outs processed. You can keep track of your opt-outs, and if you receive the mail again, they will follow up!
  • Fifth, fill out a change of address form for any previous tenants whose mail you receive regularly (the online form won't work because it requires a forwarding address). In lieu of a new address, write "Moved, no forwarding address" and added "form filled in by current resident, [Your Name], agent for the above" next to your signature.
  • Sixth, contact the sender directly for any mail that wasn't stopped by the previous steps: Look for the sender's contact information and ask for your name and address to be removed from the database.
  • For occasion mail for an old resident, strike out the old resident's name and write "moved" while leaving it in the mailbox for the postman. Striking out of the name to make it obvious that it's the wrong address, whereas writing on mail alone might be glanced over.
  • Next, use the free PaperKarma mobile app to take pictures of any unwanted mail that hasn't been deterred by the previous steps. This app "automatically unsubscribes you from junk mail and unwanted catalogs. Go postal on direct mailings and marketing distribution lists.Catalog choice is yours: simply snap a photo to take control of your mailbox. Help save trees and positively impact the environment too!" They send updates on progress to your email.
  • After you have taken your picture, you can make a little money while you wait to be unsubscribed. Sell the junk mail that is already coming in both your email as well as your mailbox.-As a consumer panelist for a market research study, you send your qualified junk mail and junk emails to SBKC and they compensate you for it.
  • If you are just frustrated, you've  tried everything else, and you can't sell it, then try writing one of the following- Refused: Return to Sender, No Longer at This Address, or Take me off your mailing list. If you still get mail from the same sender, you can open up the mail and use the paid return envelope to send a letter requesting to be removed from their mailing list. 
  • Be polite but firm in the note. Don’t resort to foul or abusive language. If you’re not sure what to write, try something simple like “Please remove me from your mailing list. I do not wish to receive any future offers/solicitations, etc.” Make sure to include your name and mailing address on the note because your contact information will not be on the pre-paid return envelope.

    If they still send you mail after a couple of months, include another letter and try stuffing the envelopes with shredded paper until they can’t hold any more material. If you’re worried that they won’t stay shut, you may want to reinforce the closure with paper tape.
  • Lastly, according to U.S.C. Title 39 - Postal Service section 3008. Prohibition of pandering advertisements, you can fill out Form 1500 to stop delivery of any material that you find offensive. All you have to do is fill out a USPS Form 1500 and attach the opened mail piece to it and turn it in to the Post Office. The USPS will issue an order that no more mailings be sent to you by that mailer. 
    •  Form 1500 states that the mailing contains pornographic material that you find offensive. (The law says the determination of what is offensive or pornographic is at the sole discretion of the recipient). The two-sided form is available at any Post Office, and photo copies of it are acceptable. It is easy to fill out and takes only a minute or two. The USPS will send you a letter with a case number, stating when the cease and desist order was issued to the mailer. If you receive mailings after a grace period you can report them to the enforcement office - instructions provided in the letter. 
Now to help our friends from across the pond get started in the UK:
  • First, tackle unaddressed Royal Mail mail- They are still legally obliged to deliver all addressed mail including mail that is addressed ‘To the Occupier’.
You also need to get permission from others in the household before you send the opt-out form. Once Royal Mail receives your signed form you will stop receiving unaddressed mail within 6 weeks.The easiest way is to visit the Royal Mail website and download a copy of the form.
Go to the site and click –  Register Stop unsolicited mail
Tick the box -I wish to register my address details to be removed from mailing lists
Enter your postcode
Select the address you wish to register or add address manually
Add your details (Title, Forename & Surname) Here you have the option to add another individual
Select why you wish to register from the options
To activate your subscription enter your email
To complete your registration they will send you an activation e-mail. Once received, open the e-mail and simply click on the attached link, this will activate your subscription.
This service only covers UK addresses and you cannot register PO Box Numbers or business addresses.
  • Third, contact the Your Choice Preference Service for unaddressed mail. You can contact them via email YourChoice@dma.org.uk. 
They send a ‘Your Choice’ registration pack for free. Print off the form, fill in your details and send a scanned copy back to them via email. You need to provide your full address, including postcode and make sure that you sign and date the form.

To return the form to you can either scan and email to YourChoice@dma.org.uk or post the form to the following address:

‘Your Choice’ Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS
  • Fourth, for occasion mail for an old resident, strike out the old resident's name and write "moved" while leaving it in the mailbox for the postman. Striking out of the name to make it obvious that it's the wrong address, whereas writing on mail alone might be glanced over.
  • Fifth, use the free PaperKarma mobile app to take pictures of any unwanted mail that hasn't been deterred by the previous steps. This app "automatically unsubscribes you from junk mail and unwanted catalogs. Go postal on direct mailings and marketing distribution lists.Catalog choice is yours: simply snap a photo to take control of your mailbox. Help save trees and positively impact the environment too!" They send updates on progress to your email.
  • Sixth, after you have taken your picture, you can make a little money while you wait to be unsubscribed. Sell the junk mail that is already coming in both your email as well as your mailbox.-As a consumer panelist for a market research study, you send your qualified junk mail and junk emails to SBKC and they compensate you for it.
  • Seventh, if you can't sell it, then try writing one of the following- Refused: Return to Sender, No Longer at This Address, or Take me off your mailing list.

  • Lastly, contact the Sender directly- Under the Data Protection Act 1998 any person or business must stop using your personal information for marketing if you ask them to. They cannot refuse to take your name off their list. The Information Commissioner’s Office has a great free template that you can use to send to companies. If they fail to contact you back you can then formally request they stop using Section 11 of the Data Protection Act.
Bonus tips: While you're waiting to get off their mailing lists, here are some ways to reuse your junk mail to save some cash and how to get rid of junk mail in one step.
  • Make notepads out of security envelopes- Here is a great tutorial for making notepads from the unwanted security envelopes until they get you off their list.
  • Make envelopes out of magazines/catalogs- Here is a great tutorial for making envelopes from the unwanted magazines/catalogs until they get you off their list.
  • Make doll food out of the ads-Here is a great tutorial for making doll food from the unwanted ads until they get you off their list.



  • If you are willing to pay a small fee (generally $20-30) to clean out your physical mailbox, services like Greendimes41 Pounds, and Stop the Junk Mail can take care of the problem for you. All you do is provide a information about you and your problem address and the services will make the necessary calls to get you off of junk and grey mail lists. This should get rid of almost all of your junk mail, with almost no effort on your part. Whoo-hoo!
I'll be holding onto my junk mail until September Zero Waste Week 2017, where I'll put aside the time to follow all of the steps above as my pledge.
Here's to an almost empty mailbox!

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