A few weeks ago I wrote about the adoption of a paperless lifestyle as one excellent way to go green. Immense numbers of trees are sacrificed for the sake of sending us every paper bill and piece of junk we get in the mail. The average adult in the US gets about forty pounds of junk mail every year, and about half of it ends up in the garbage before it’s ever opened. Over a lifetime, you’ll get about a thousand pounds of mail you never wanted unless you do something about it.
In the previous article I suggested filling out this form and sending it to the Direct Marketing Association. I also pointed to an excellent tips page from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse for getting rid of certain kinds of junk mail.
Here are four more ideas for how to stop this scourge of the forests from invading your mailbox:
1) 41pounds.org. The people at 41pounds.org say they can stop up to 95 percent of junk mail and unwanted catalogs. They get in touch with catalog companies, direct marketers, and others, and get your name taken off distribution lists. Unfortunately the service is not free, but the fee is only $41 for five years of service. They will donate a third of your new subscription fee to your preferred organization, as long at it’s community or environmentally oriented.
2) Catalog Choice. Catalog Choice has been endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation. You can register online, use the search function to find specific companies’ catalogs, and tell them you don’t want them anymore. This is a free service, which is great. However, as much as ten weeks may be required to process the request, so don’t expect immediate results.
3) Get more tips at Ecocycle. Ecocycle is a website dedicated to recycling issues, and they have more great tips on how to stop getting junk mail if you decide to manually remove yourself from the various lists.
4) Options for other (non-US) countries. Recent comments have reminded me that I should not forget about international readers. Methods for reducing junk mail will probably vary from country to country but the general tips listed on the websites I suggest should still apply, especially for any companies doing business from the United States. Generally, you should be able to look up the distributors of the junk mail you’re getting and tell them to stop sending it. In many countries, they are required by law to stop sending unsolicited mail after that. You can also discontinue all paper catalogs with companies you regularly do business with. Even just switching to a post office box from a letterbox can help cut down the junk mail.
It’s vital that we stop this waste of paper. Not only do forests suffer, but even the production of all that paper has a large environmental impact–from water waste to pollution to heavy metals in the inks. Hopefully you’ll find an emptier mailbox if you try some of these ideas.