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Junk Mail, Be Gone!

By Asha Kreiling

I love getting mail, but I am frequently disappointed when I open my mail box only to see it filled with junk! In fact, I get more junk mail than personal letters, and I’m sure this is true for most people. Not only is it annoying to sift through handfuls of ads, catalogs, and unsolicited letters, but the hefty load of junk mail we all receive almost every day is quite a burden on the environment.

• An average of 41 pounds of junk mail is sent to every adult in the U.S. each year.

• 44% of it goes to the landfill unopened, making paper one of the largest components of the American waste stream.
• Over 100 million trees are ground up each year to produce junk mail.
• About 28 billion gallons of water are used to produce and recycle junk mail each year (http://www.41pounds.org/impact/).

All of my junk mail goes straight to my recycling bin, and sometimes I shred it and add it to my compost pile. But, how can we stop getting so much of this wasteful paper in the first place? There are various ways:

1. Send it back: Cross out the address and the bar code on the front of unwanted mail with a marker. Circle the postage and write “REFUSED: Return to sender.” Drop it in the mailbox.

2. Unsubscribe: Chances are you are receiving some junk mail because, at one point, you signed up for it. Catalogs often have a toll-free number for unsubscribing listed somewhere in small print. The same goes for solicitation letters from non-profit organizations; they often give you a number to call or a website to visit if you no longer wish to receive their letters.

3. Opt-out of consumer reporting companies: Call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or visitwww.optoutprescreen.com to stop receiving pre-screened offers of credit and insurance from major credit reporting agencies such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can opt out permanently or for five years. When you call or visit the site, you will have to provide personal information such as your name, social security number and date of birth; but the process is advertised by the Federal Trade Commission and is completely confidential. Read more here:http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/alerts/alt063.shtm.

4. Take your name off mailing lists: DirectMail.com is a private direct mailing firm that provides a “National Do Not Mail Registry” service. They compile a list of people who fill out the form and send it to mass mailers for removal.

b. Fill out the form on the right side of the screen. Select “I do not want to receive any special offers in the mail.”
c. Click submit. When you get a confirmation email, click on the provided link to complete your registration.

5. Write to the Direct Market Association (DMA) to reduce junk mail by 75%. For more info, visit http://www.ecofuture.org/jmdma.html.

6. Get rid of supermarket ads. If possible, look for an address card that comes with supermarket fliers and contact them to request you be taken off their mailing list. You can also visit ADVO’s site (a major supplier of grocery ads), and request to be removed from their mailing list:http://www.redplum.com/mailing-list.aspx.

7. Abolish the phone book: Yellowpagegoesgreen.org is a non-profit organization to help eliminate the unsolicited delivery of Yellow and White Pages books. By filling out their form, publishers will be notified that you do not wish to receive telephone directory books.

a. Visit https://www.yellowpagesoptout.com/ and type in your zip code.
b. Fill out the form and click sign up.
c. After you receive a confirmation email, click on the link to complete the process.

After completing these steps, there is sometimes a delay before noticing a reduction in junk mail, but after a month or so, you will begin to see less and less junk clogging your mail box. All it takes is a few minutes to look for a phone number or website to take yourself off a mailing list, reducing junk mail and saving resources.





About Asha Kreiling

Asha Kerilling wrote for Green-Mom.com in 2012 and 2013. She is now working in environmental policy analysis and implementation in US cities.

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