Saying No To Junk Mail

by Kelvin Belfon

Saying No To Junk Mail

Reducing the inflow of stuff in our homes is one way to keep things clutter-free. For me Saying No To Junk Mail is a big piece of the puzzle.

Junk mail clutters our space. It fills up our mailboxes and creates unsightly piles on tabletops. In our home we receive multiple offers for credit cards, cell phone services, insurances, personal checks, and all kinds of other paper solicitations on a daily basis. We also get newspaper ads from 5 local supermarkets plus flyers, catalogs, magazines advertisings, phone books. In a lifetime, the average American will spend 8 months opening junk mail or 70 hours per year!

Junk mail wastes our valuable time. I have to retrieve it, look through it (in case some bills are hidden in the maze), and dispose of it. Oh and don’t forget the time it takes to shred or destroy the credit card offers. Our junk mail is placed in a box and later taken to the recycle station a few miles away, at least once per week. The average US household handles 848 pieces or 41 pounds of junk mail per year. That’s just too much paper!

Junk mail depletes our natural resources. The 848 pieces of junk mail equals 1.5 trees every year or more than 100 million trees for all U.S. households. Over 28 billion gallons of water is used to produce and recycle junk mail every year. Junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars. Nearly 44 percent of junk mail is thrown away (only 22% is recyclable). And it costs the US 370 million annually to dispose of junk mail that is not recycled.

So why do we keep it coming into our homes?

The problem is that junk mailers always seem to find me no matter how many times I’ve moved and changed my address. The fact is, once you fill out those change of address forms, the Post Office, government agencies and certain companies are  involved in leaking or sharing my information and making it easier for junk mailers to send stuff I don’t need.

How can you stop the clutter?

1.     Use a professional company like 41.pounds.org. A one-time $35 will reduce 80-95% of your junk mail for 5 years. Also check out MyJunkTree.com.

2.     Do it yourself if you have the time and don’t want to spend the money.

Go to the following websites:

  • The Direct Marketing Association or DMAChoice.org and CatalogChoice.org – They allow you to stop major catalogs, magazines or and other junk mail you do not wish to receive.
  • OptOutPreScreen.com or call 888-567-8688 – This site contacts the 3 major credit bureaus and prevents them from sending pre-approved credit card offers to you. I highly encourage this to avoid ID theft. Your Social Security number is required to confirm your identity on this website.
  • WorldPrivacyForum.org – This is a one-stop shop website covering the Top 10 Opt Outs. One issue that caught my attention on the list as a parent was FERPA. Have you wondered why your 6 year old or teen is receiving credit card offers in the mail? The FERPA opt out option stops schools from releasing student directory information without your consent, however with some limitation.
  • Legitimate “Junk Mail” – In some cases companies mail their ads and promotions because we’ve done business with them in the recent past. To opt-out: write, call or go to your online account setting to unsubscribe or cancel the subscription.
  • Make it difficult for marketers to find you – Avoid entering in sweepstakes, mailing product warranty cards that don’t require a proof of purchase or receipt and signing up for in-store rewards cards.

In Saying No To Junk Mail you must be proactive. The process can be a real inconvenience; it requires work and patience. But I want to do my part in saving the earth’s natural resources, so it’s something I’ve started doing in my home. It’s well worth the effort!

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16 thoughts on “Saying No To Junk Mail

  1. Terri says:

    Oh My God, yes!! I did a lot of this myself – catalog choice, and some of the other websites you mentioned, and it really did help. I did call some catalogs directly like LL Bean, etc., and then they stopped. However, I think if it just says “Resident” then they can’t stop it. Which, of course, sucks really big time because then you know it’s REALLY junk mail….

    If you do get junk mail and can shred it, I’m sure a nearby animal shelter would use it. We use shredded up paper in the litterboxes for cats after they have been neutered or spayed. It helps so that they don’t get litter near the site of their incision. Just a thought!

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Terri thanks for the tip about donating shredded paper to animal shelters. It’s a great way to recycle our paper waste. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ron Miaskiewicz says:

    When I was in management, I started noticing the desk of my managers were always cluttered. If I asked for something, it was always a project for them to locate it? It was then I learned that, there’s a place for everything and place it where it belongs! If it’s trash, trash it, if it’s current and needed, file it I an active, marked file and if it’s for future use, file it appropriately! Donna and I try to accomplish this, in our household and save precious time?
    This also applies to the internet! I use to feel guilty if I did’t open , comment or like every post. I finally woke up to the fact that my time was being wasted on meaningless information. I am now being more selective and protecting my precious time! GB

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Yes, having a place for everything can save us lots of time. On the other hand, clutter has a way of making things “disappear.” And that can be a big time waster. Thanks for sharing Ron!

  3. Barbra says:

    Boy, did you hit a pet peeve! It is so true but also so frustrating because you feel like “I can’t do much about this!” Your resources listed will be so helpful — thanks!

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Yes, I understand what you mean. The amount of junk mail is overwhelming! And trying to contact each company is a pain. I’m giving myself a few months…little by little 🙂

  4. Gabriele says:

    I don’t get junk mail.  Funny how that works….I never change my address with the post office, I only contact my credit card companies and everyone else that needs to have it….that cut it down to almost zero. I still get neighborhood supermarket flyers but that is it. Our apartment complex has a trashcan by the mailbox. I only bring home what I need or want to keep. 😉

    Once again, great post.

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Looks like you have a good deal Gabriele. I wish our complex had a bin right next to the mailbox too. I’m hoping to put an end to the whole junk mail soon. Thanks for sharing!!

  5. Terry Lawrence says:

    Junk Mail is such a pain an i seem to keep getting more and more of it each day! the big issue for me is that the post all your personal information on some of it so you do have to shred or tear it up before throwing it away; I still have stuff i need to shred from quite a while back; thanks for different options of stopping the junk mail and getting some one to do it for you if possible for a small fee!

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Yes Terry, junk mail is a real pain! We are all capable of doing our own research these days on the internet if we needed something. Why all the paper? Like the phone books…very few people who have smart phones use them.

  6. Gillian Claudia Johnson-Baptiste says:

    Don’t have much of this problem here in Grenada. That’s a blessing I suppose. Junk email is a problem though.

    • Kelvin Belfon says:

      Gillian be glad you don’t have to deal with junk mail. It’s a waste of time and resources. You bring up a good point with junk email. Talk about electronic clutter…it’s a topic for another post 🙂

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  8. Lara says:

    This is seriously useful info., Kelvin. I’m on it! Thank you!

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