Put an End to Junk Mail

>> Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Besides my children's endless artwork,the other big culprit in my paper recycling bin is something that I cannot be blamed for in any way, and that really annoys me. But junk mail is not just annoying, it's bad for the environment. According to Treehugger, 100 million trees are destroyed to make junk mail every year, which creates greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 3.7 million cars.

With Christmas coming, the contents of my mailbox have doubled with catalogs and advertisements that I don't even look at before tossing them into the recycling bin. So it's time to take some action.

Here are some steps that I plan to take to solve my junk mail problem:
  1. Send it back. Write "Return to Sender - Refused by Addressee" on the envelope and pop it back in the mail. This method will not stop the junk mail, but at least it sends a message that the solicitation was not desired.
  2. Remove your name from the list. Register with the Direct Market Association's Mail Preference Service, which supposedly takes you off mass market mailing lists for up to five years.
  3. Opt-out of credit card mailing lists. Call 1-888-567-8688. This service asks for your Social Security Number, but you don't need to worry about giving it to them since credit bureaus have access to Social Security Numbers already anyway.
  4. Cut out the catalogs. Register with Catalog Choice, who will supposedly contact catalog companies for you. Unfortunately, the catalogs don't have to listen to Catalog Choice, so I've read that this service doesn't really cut out too much junk mail. The other option is contacting the companies yourself. Call the customer service number and request that your name be taken off their mailing list.
  5. Put an end to coupon flyers and weekly circulars. Register with ProQuo, another online service that claims to cut out junk mail but has a much wider scope than Catalog Choice. Again, this may not work 100%, so you can also contact each company yourself and ask to be removed from their mailing list.
  6. Pay someone else to do all the work. For $41, 41pounds.org pledges to reduce your junk mail up to 95%.
  7. Sign the petition. Visit New American Dream to sign the petition requesting the creation of a Do Not Mail registry that would be similar to the Do Not Call registry created a few years ago.
One other thing to consider is that the fewer credit card applications that appear in your mailbox, trash can, and recycling bin, the less susceptible you are to identity theft.

I'll be working on this over the next few months and will let you know if my junk mail is actually reduced. And of course I'm challenging you to do the same.

Got any other suggestions for reducing junk mail?

Photo by Andrew Currie


Maya November 6, 2008 at 10:03 AM  

I entered every catalog I got in Catalog Choice and it took about six months but instead of 2-5 catalogs a DAY I used to get, I now get 1-2 a WEEK. Still working on those guys.

Chuck November 8, 2008 at 5:31 PM  

Stopping unwanted mail is a significant initiative. At Catalog Choice, we have engaged industry leaders to honor mail preference requests from our members. We are successful because we engage companies at the executive level to get their commitment to honor your request. There are a lot of companies that would rather make it hard for consumers to opt-out so they are not honoring requests made at our site.

Like many important initiatives, change takes time. It also takes a unified voice of consumers. The Catalog Choice voice is loud and it is working.

So, you can call the company yourself and take care of your opt-out request. Or when you make that call, you can tell the company that you want them to honor your request entered at Catalog Choice - then if they start to participate, you will have made the service work for millions of others.

Catalog Choice

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