by Kelvin Belfon
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?
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!