Junk mail is both annoying and incredibly wasteful. Let’s talk about how to get rid of junk mail for good.
According to the EPA, more than 4 million tons of junk mail reach our mailboxes each year. The cost is multifaceted for our environments: we lose trees for paper, water for printing, add CO2 emissions for transport, just to have the mail end up in a landfill. The worst part is, no one ever asked if we wanted this junk!
So how do you stop it? There are basically two approaches to a solution.
Stop Junk Mail Before It’s Sent
The first, and more ideal scenario is that you stop the mail before it is sent to you. You can register for a “do not mail” list. Similar to the “do not call” lists, this list tells companies not to send you unsolicited mail. Be patient, it can take several weeks! The Federal Trade Commission and USPS recommend two sites:
There is a $2 registration fee for this website, but this list lasts for 10 years. This website not only offers junk mail reduction services but you can also sign up for their other programs including the following:
- eMail Preference Service (reduce your unsolicited commercial email);
- Telephone Preference Service (to reduce national commercial calls for consumers who live in Pennsylvania and Wyoming – consumers in other states are referred to the National Do Not Call Registry: www.donotcall.gov);
- Deceased Do Not Contact list (for name removal of deceased individuals’ names); and
- Do Not Contact list for Caregivers (for caregivers to register name removal on behalf of those individuals for whom they care)
Go to optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688). This allows you to opt out of credit card offers for 5 years. You can also download and print a form to mail in to opt out permanently. This website is the only one authorized by the nationwide credit bureaus.
This is a completely free service that helps you to eliminate junk mail and catalogs from select businesses. Catalog Choice is a non-profit organization unaffiliated with the mail marketing industry.
Send Unopened Mail Back
The second approach to eliminating unwanted mail is to send unopened mail back to the company by writing “refused” on it. Unfortunately, this does not generate any less mail, but the company may get the hint once it’s been returned. This serves as a reminder to organizations that their mail campaign was not impactful and a waste of their money.
Directly Contact Businesses
If you have tried to opt out of a company’s list without success via one of the above websites, consider contacting them directly. You can reach out to customer service by phone, email, or even social media and ask to be removed from their mailing list.
Mail from Companies You Have an Existing Business Relationship With
However, this does not apply to mail from companies/organizations that consumers “have an existing business relationship”. You can start taking inventory of the “relationships” and reach out to companies. Take an afternoon and send some quick emails, find contact boxes on company websites, or even call the company if you feel the mail is excessive. You don’t have to spend a ton of time reaching out but instead, find the repeat offenders and let them know the negative impact the junk mail has on their brand. It could very well help to inform decision making for their ad next campaign!
There are also a couple apps to help keep you organized. Try PaperKarma or iPaperApp (available from the Apple App Store). Both are free and help you catalog and send unsubscribe requests directly to marketers. With PaperKarma, you simply take a picture of the junk mail and they will contact the company for you to get you off their mailing list.
With the holiday season in full swing, there will undoubtedly be more promotional mail flooding in. Try these simple solutions today to help stop junk mail and lighten the load on our environment. After all, that junk mail really could have been an email!
While you’re working to eliminated physical junk mail, also consider decluttering your inbox as well!
Jess Godfrey is a writer and lover of everything outdoors based in Western, NC. Find more of her writing at trail-travels.com