I’m pretty sure we are all familiar with the site of a pile of junk mail sitting on your counter (or thrown in your trash can). About 3 years ago, I spent months diligently setting aside a few minutes every day to rid myself of junk mail. Then we moved twice in 3 months, and we started a business. Somehow this made it so we were receiving ridiculous amounts of junk mail every day.
The statistics on junk mail are outrageous. There are so many ways it negatively affects the environment… from using trees, processing, chemical based printing inks, and fossil fuels used to deliver the extra mail. When we set our vision on become a truly zero-waste home, it meant figuring out a way to rid ourselves of junk mail. If you too are interested in helping the environment and not having to deal with daily unwanted mail arriving in your mailbox, here are a few small steps you can take. I’m not gonna lie. It’s not easy, and it does take being persistent. But it is worth it. Before we moved, I had it so I only received, at the most, 1 piece of junk mail a month. Wow! It felt so good!
Opting out of credit card offers and getting off mailing lists is a simple and quick place to start. Take 5-10 minutes and visit these two websites to do so. Lots of companies sell your name and address to other companies. The more mailing lists you can get off of, the less companies that will have your info to sell in the first place.
Credit Card Offers: Opt Out Prescreen
Mailing Lists: DMA Choice
This is one of the most tedious steps, but it’s what will completely get rid of junk mail for you. Once you’ve given the websites from above a month or two to kick in, you will still receive junk mail, although, hopefully much less.
I set aside all junk mail in a pile. About once every two weeks, I set aside 10-15 minutes to go through it all. First, you will try to find the company’s website. This is usually fairly easy especially for catalogs. Find a “Contact Us” or “Customer Service” always at the very bottom of the webpage in small font. You might have to go through several drop down menus to get so you can email them. I always choose to email. Chatting and phone calls take too long
Some companies have made it especially difficult or nearly impossible to find their email address. If that’s the case, I take the piece of junk mail, circle my name and address and write “ remove from mailing list.” I put it in an envelope and resend it back to them. It’s usually easy to find their return address on the piece of junk mail. You might think this wastes 55 cents, but my time is money. And right now, rather than spending 10 minutes calling them or googling to find an email address that is non-existent, it’s worth that 55 cent stamp. It is also rare that I have to do this. Only 1 of every 20 pieces of junk mail am I not able to find the company’s contact info online.
Stay on it! After 2-3 months, you will notice that you rarely get junk mail. When I’ve been completely on top of it, I only got mailings once every few months. Amazing!
Just say no. A huge step in not getting junk mail is learning to say no. When you order from a company online, in the comment box of your order write, “please do not sign me up for your catalog mailing list.”
Catalogs are a place I notice that gets out of control fast. If you do online purchasing, they usually automatically sign you up for their catalog. The companies then sell your info to other companies, and before you know it, you are back to drowning in junk mail. Catalogs are fun, I’ll admit, but they are wasteful, and they do tend to make you spend more than you would if you didn’t know those things existed.
A Few Last Tips
If you’ve just moved, you’ll notice you get some of the old occupants mail. Just circle their name, write “NATA” (not at this address) and put it back in the mailbox with the flag up. If you do this enough, your postmaster will learn not to put what’s not yours in your mailbox.
If junk mail says “Current Resident” you can’t put NATA on the envelope. Even if it says the old resident’s name on it too. Anything that says “current resident” means you, and it means that you are responsible for contacting that company to stop their mailings to you.
Lastly, don’t get discouraged. Yes, this can be a bit of work for a few months. But if you stay on top of it for 2-3 months, you will be amazed at how much it reduces your junk mail.
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