How to Reduce Junk Mail

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ISTOCKPHOTO/ALEXEY STIOP
There are a handful of easy ways you can keep your mailbox from overflowing with unwanted mail.

Tired of opening your mailbox to piles of unwanted promotions?
On average, each American receives
41 pounds of junk
mail per year, and more than
100 million trees are
lost annually to produce those advertisements and solicitations.
While you likely receive mail from businesses or causes that you
value, you probably get mail from many in which you have no
interest. As always, you can recycle your excess mail, and
thankfully, easy options now exist to minimize or even completely
stop unwanted mail.

Web sites such as
GreenDimes.com and
41pounds.org can remove your
name from direct mail advertisers’ lists for a fee ($36 for one
year; $41 for five years, respectively). Less pricey alternatives
and a few simple tips also can significantly reduce the amount of
junk mail sent to your home.

  • DirectMail.com
    compiles a list of people who
    indicate
    that they don’t want to receive advertisements in the mail.
    Registration for the list is free, and the Web site then supplies
    the list to mass mailers, which can choose to check it with their
    mailing lists and remove names that appear on both.

    For a $1 processing fee, the
    Direct Marketing Association
    can add your
    name
    to its ‘do not mail’ list. The DMA requires its more than
    3,600 member companies to match their marketing lists with the ‘do
    not mail’ list. You will see junk mail decrease about three months
    after your name gets on the list, which is updated four times a
    year.

    Both services assure that they do not pass along your name or
    address to any mailing lists. Both work only for home addresses,
    not business addresses. Neither can guarantee a complete stop to
    junk mail, and be aware that registering for either list can also
    prevent you from receiving mail you might want, such as coupons,
    catalogues, and mail from nonprofit and charitable
    organizations.

  • To specifically stop credit card and insurance offers, call
    (888) 5-OPTOUT (888) 567-8688 or register at
    optoutprescreen.com,
    which removes your name from major credit agencies’ marketing lists
    for five years, or permanently if you complete a mail-in form.
  • Don’t be afraid to sign up for things you want. If you’re
    concerned that your name and address will be added to other mailing
    lists, write a variation of ‘please do not sell or trade my name or
    address’ next to your information when making a donation, placing
    an order, or filling out a form for a warranty, subscription or
    even for a drawing. That way you’ll get what you want, but nothing
    more.
  • When you receive an unwanted solicitation from a specific
    company, call its toll-free number to directly request removal from
    its mailing list. Businesses should be accommodating because
    sending mail only to interested customers saves them money. If you
    want to minimize the amount of mail you receive from charities you
    support, ask them to only mail materials to you once a year or
    under special circumstances. Then reward them by donating when
    you’re ready.

For many industries, including the magazine industry, direct
mail is a means of reaching and maintaining customers. You can help
Mother Earth News
reduce our use of paper and our need to send renewal notices by
renewing your subscription online through our

Earth-friendly Subscription Program
. You’ll save trees and
cash: those in the program get our lowest renewal rate (currently
$10) without getting a single renewal notice in the mailbox.

Know a way to curb unwanted mail, or reuse it creatively? Share
your knowledge by posting a comment below.