The Obsessive-Compulsive's Guide to Stopping Junk Mail
By Colin Beavan aka No Impact Man.
Five years ago, I bought my step-mother Beth some flower bulbs. The company has sent me two catalogs a year ever since. The product pushers discovered that my daughter Isabella was born but not that she has since aged two years, so we get piles of completely useless baby wear catalogs.
Do I ever look at these bundles of the coagulated flesh of dead trees? Uh, no. Do you?
According to the Native Forest Network guide to stopping junk mail, 100 million trees are ground up each year to make junk mail. Um, didn't somebody mention that tearing down trees is contributing to global warming?
All in the interests of our economy—right?—except that 44 percent of junk mail gets trashed without ever being opened. Together with other types of paper and paperboard waste, the junk mail adds up to 40% of the solid waste in our landfills.
So here's what I've done to stop the tree killers and keep their trash out of my bin. And believe me, it's a battle:
1. All the junk mail, including that with plastic windows in the envelopes, goes in the recycling bin. For a guide to recycling in your community, go here.
2. I got my name off the credit card and insurance offer lists by going to the credit bureaus' centralized service for opting out.
3. I spent a dollar—swear to God, that's the price—to sign onto the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service, which reportedly will reduce my junk mail by 75%.
4. I began calling the 800 number on the catalogs and asking them to take me off their lists.
5. After all this, my junk mail reduced but not vanished. BUT I WILL STOP THEM! I'm now trying a paid service called Green Dimes, which promises to get rid of junk mail for $36 a year (one green dime a day). If Green Dimes does what it claims, parting with the cash means you don't have to take all the steps above (except recycling, of course!), because Green Dimes does it for you.
6. Okay, so getting rid of junk mail is harder than getting rid of bed bugs. It turns out that none of this will stop catalogs from companies you have bought from. Can you believe it? So one last step. Join Catalog Choice, a service that allows you to opt out of catalog mailings, by entering your customer number, even from companies you bought from.
After that, you should be good. But remember: don't step on the cracks.
Photo by Altered Angel.
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