By John P. Anderson
Want to reduce the amount of trash and recycling you have each week? Reducing the amount of junk mail you receive is a good place to start. Below I’ve compiled a convenient list of the websites and companies you should contact to most effectively reduce the junk mail you received.
Here are a few figures from a post by NYU Law School that highlight the environmental impact of junk mail:
- 5.6 million tons of catalogs and other direct mail advertisements end up in U.S. landfills annually
- The average American household receives 848 pieces of junk mail per household, equal to 1.5 trees every year – more than 100 million trees for all U.S. households combined.
- 100 million trees a year is the equivalent of deforesting all of Rocky Mountain National Park every four months.
- Largely due to deforestation, junk mail manufacturing creates as much greenhouse gas emissions annually as 3.7 million cars.
Similar to the Do Not Call Registry to stop telemarketers and others from harassing you by phone there are similar services available to handle junk mail, although none are as comprehensive as the Do Not Call Registry is for calls. The following are the sites for the largest opt-out services. The below requests will take less than 20 minutes to complete and greatly reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. Please note that it will likely take a few weeks for the services to process your requests and stop sending mail your way.
- Direct Marketing Association (Mass Mailing Industry Group)
- Opt-Out Prescreen (Credit Card Offers and Credit Rating Agencies)
- This is a 5-year opt out – if you’d like to opt out permanently you can print the completed 5-year form and mail in a signed copy. The site makes this very easy to do.
- Yellow Pages – Highly recommend signing up for this one since phone books are massive. When I opted out on this site I was surprised to find my address is serviced by 7(!) separate yellow book companies.
In San Diego there are a few more companies that are likely sending junk mail your way. Opt out via the following methods.
- U-T San Diego – Even if you’re not a subscriber to the local newspaper you likely find advertisements delivered to your driveway occasionally. The U-T does not have an online opt-out per my conversation with a representative but you can opt-out by calling 800-533-8830 (then Option 6 to be connected to a person) and requesting to be removed from all mailing lists. This includes enlace (Spanish newspaper), San Diego Extra, and Local Community Values (advertisement mailings).
- Red Plum – The thick coupon and advertisement mailings that arrive weekly to many homes in San Diego.
- Pennysaver – Another weekly advertisement mailing that includes many classified-type ads.
Opting out via the above links will address most of your junk mail. For specific companies / mailings in the future Catalog Choice is a good tool to manage unwanted catalogs and mail. Catalog Choice assists with opt-out requests for specific companies that send you mail (Cox, Home Depot, etc.) that may not fall into the above categories and be covered by a general opt-out request. Catalog Choice also offers a fee service, MailStop Shield, that can be purchased for $35 a year to stop junk mail.
41pounds.org is another pay service for junk mail reduction. This service costs $41 and they will remove you from a host of mass marketers, and manage your junk mail for 5 years. Additionally, a third of your payment goes to environmental non-profits and public works. I haven’t used this service but have heard good things. The name is for the average of 41 pounds of junk mail received per adult American per year.
Reducing the junk mail you receive will help to reduce the amount of trees harvested to produce the mail and the resources expended to process the waste stream created when disposed of.