Eliminate Junk Mail With the Click of a Button

by Linsey Knerl on 27 June 2011 4 comments

On a good day, I’ll see a postcard from my dentist, two magazines, and a freelance check in my mailbox. On a bad one, I’ll be inundated with phone books, flyers, credit card offers, and even a fake certificate for 20% off a custom-made hearing aid. Generally, I’ll dump the unwanted mailings — or “junk” mail — into my recycling bin before I even get into the house. But what if there was a way to easily access the mailing order for these items online and stop them before they get to me? (See also: Magazines for Free or Cheap)

You might already know about some of the more basic tips for killing mailbox clutter, but did you know about all of them?

1. Sign Up to Get Less

Go to the Direct Marketing Association’s website and sign up for their services. You could potentially reduce up to 80% of your junk mail by notifying them of each piece of mail you receive that you would rather not.

2. Opt Out

Be careful when you fill out forms for sweepstakes, freebies, or more information on products you know and love. Look for language on the form (usually at the bottom) that lets you know if you will be signing up for mailers, including emails. There should be a box to check or uncheck to remove yourself from further communications. Make sure you indicate your preferences.

3. Cut Credit Offers

Address issues with unsolicited “preapproved” credit offers by going directly to the company that could remove your name and credit info from the lists sent out to companies. OptOutPrescreen.com is the place to go to sign up for a five-year or even a lifetime halt to having your info circulated. While it will take time to see a reduction in offers, it can eventually put a dent in the junk mail.

4. Challenge Charities

Yes, they can do good things.They can also place a combined total of 2-10 phone calls a day to the average household! If charity request phone calls are driving you batty (and the accompanying solicitation mail pieces feel wasteful and intrusive), use this “fundraising reduction notice” to alert charities that you will be glad to continue sending gifts (if you already do), but don’t need the extra communication.

5. Cull Catalogs

Big, thick catalogs and those unnecessary phone book mailings are the worst offenders to your cramped mailbox (and the environment). Get proactive with the next batch of unwanted mailings by signing up with Catalog Choice. They can do a search by ZIP code or company name to find out what mass mailings are being delivered to all the mailboxes in your area, then help you to say “no.” They can also give you the tools to reject future mailings from virtually any company as well. (Their efforts to reduce waste by community are impressive.)

While you’re waiting around for your efforts to pay off — with a reduction in unnecessary packaging and a big break for the mail carrier — why not check out these additional resources? You can find more info on the process of cutting clutter in the mailbox at Ecocycle.org and revisit some ways to unsubscribe by the good, old-fashioned telephone and postal mail in Nora's take on reducing mailings.

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Meg Favreau's picture

I really like the reminder about charities. I once donated a small amount -- $25 -- to a charity, and I'm pretty convinced that they spent at least half of it sending me mail for the next three years! It was so frustrating to feel like I paid them to waste paper on me, not to further their cause.

Andrea Karim's picture

It's pretty depressing when you find a charity that you love and then they turn around and ruin it by being super-aggressive in their fundraising. Especially when it happens right away - "You just sent us $50 - please feel free to write another check right now!".

Some of my favorite charities are guilty of this. Well, formerly favorite.

Guest's picture

I love the idea on how to get less catalogs. We get so many that I know I never signed up for. It's a real nuisance. I never realized there was a site to pick and choose which catalogs I can get!

Guest's picture
Guest

I think everyone should sign up for more mail and catalogs. This will keep the Post Office lucrative and keep our Saturday mail coming. (Plus, when rolled up tightly, junk mail makes nice logs for the outdoor firepit.)

-JohnnyJ