Monday, March 2, 2009

Reduce: Stopping Junk Mail

A sizable part of our resource consumption and subsequent carbon footprint is our reliance on paper-based products, not to mention paper itself.  An amazing volume of junk mail tends to assault us constantly through 'snail mail'; and even though shredding, composting, or recycling that junk mail is commendable, why not just stop the inflow?

Here are some easy tips on stopping unwanted mail:

USPS first class mail: circle the first class postage, and write "refused: return to sender".

Credit offers: Call 1-800-5 OPT-OUT (or 1-800-567-8688), and all of the major credit bureaus will remove you from the list that they sell to advertisers.

  • Remove your name from specific catalog lists for free by visiting, or
  • Call the company's 800 number and have the label handy, or
  • Write your instructions on the mailing label and fax it to the company. Mark "ATTN: customer service".

USPS bulk mail: if the mail is labeled "address correction corrected", circle that and treat as first class mail. If not, it is best to recycle this mail, as the USPS throws out any returned bulk mail.

Local Business and supermarket fliers:
All bundled coupon mailings must identify the sender, look for an address card that might have a picture of a missing child, or other advertisements. Once you have this info, you may have to call directory assistance to ask for the sender's phone number. Some of the more prolific senders are listed below:
  • ADVO (Mail comes with pictures of missing children). Now called Valassis; click here to complete the online opt-out form, or call 1-800-437-0479 to get off the list. Via snail mail, complete this form and mail.
  • Val-Pak Coupons Click this link and have a copy your mailing label handy.
  • Carol Wright Now owned by Val-Pak, see above.
  • Harte Hanks Direct Marketing Click here to complete the online opt-out form, or call 1-800-422-4116

  • When you purchase from a catalog, over the phone, or from the internet, be sure to request that your name is not sold or shared with affiliates, and ask that you receive no promotional materials. Especially on internet orders, pay close attention to any 'contact preferences' check boxes that may already be checked for you!

    Contact your service providers and ask them not to send you promotional material:
    Providers that you have accounts with (for example insurance, bank, wireless phone, or cable companies) love to send you promotional offers and info about new services. By contacting them and making sure they are not sending their own promotional item to you, as well as not sharing your info with 'affiliate' companies, you will be on the way to a junk-mail free life!

    Activate the DMA's mail preference service:
    Visit the Direct Marketing Association's website here, to activate their 'preference service'. You will need to create an account, but once logged in, you can choose to stop catalogs, magazine offers, and other mail offers. Currently activating the preference service online is free. For up to five years, this will stop mail from all member organizations that you have not specifically ordered products from.

    The Direct Marketing Association estimates that listing with their mail preference service will stop 75% of all national mailings. If you fill out a USPS change of address form, the DMA will track the new address (you'll get a few months of mailings to the new address before they catch up to you). It can take up to six months for your request to be fully processed. If the internet isn't your thing, you can send in your request via the mail by completing their online form, then mailing the completed form to them with a check for 1$

    Keep the trees in the forest, and the junk mail out of your life!

    No comments: