The amount of junk mail I receive each day drives me nuts. All I can think of is how many trees were cut down each and every day just to send me crap that goes straight into the trash — wait, I didn’t mean trash, I meant recycle bin. Because what many people don’t realize is that the vast majority of your mail can go right into the recycle bin along with your newspapers and other papers. That is, if your city recycles those materials.
Often people are worried about putting their mail out with the recyclables, but it’s really no different than your mail sitting in your mail box all day until you pick it up! I would not, however, recommend putting any credit card offers in the bin. But instead of recycling, why not just stop the mail from being printed and sent to you in the first place? Here are some tips for making that happen:
- To stop receiving those credit card offers, simply opt-out. You can opt-out for five years or forever. But each adult in your household will have to do the same.
- To stop receiving catalogs, email email@example.com, which provides many of the mailing lists to catalog companies. You may have to call the 800 number for catalogs that you have requested or from which you have purchased products. (Try that one with Pottery Barn. I’m still waiting for those to stop coming. They print on FSC paper now, but somehow that still doesn’t seem to make it OK.)
- To reduce general junk mail, register with the Direct Marketing Association. Be warned, they will charge you $1 (a bargain!). But read through the information, because DMA states that although “the typical consumer sees a great reduction in the unsolicited mail he or she receives not all commercial mail will stop.”
- Do not send in warranty cards. They really just want your address, and warranties are in effect from moment of purchase anyway as long as you have a receipt. But if you must, be sure to write “no mailing list” on the card. Do the same on any rebate cards.
- Always look for the tiny type on any forms that you send in to companies that discuss “privacy policies,” and opt out of any mailing lists or sharing of your name.
- Call your credit card company. Your credit card company probably sells your name the most often. Ask them to stop selling your name.
These are a few simple steps you can take now. If you’re interested in further reading, I’m sure there’s a wealth of information available online. Unfortunately virtually none of these options are available to businesses or to individuals at work. You may have to undergo the painstaking task of calling those businesses independently. But in either case, make sure to recycle that which you do not need.
Consultant and writer on sustainability and the environment
Helping you leave a green footprint on the world…