Junk mail is annoying. Beyond just being annoying, it's super carbon heavy. 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gas is caused by junk mail each year. And, 44% of all that junk mail goes to the landfill unopened.
Junk mail seems small. But, it's the perfect example of how one small thing has an enormous impact when multiplied by millions of people.
100 million trees are cut down annually just to feed the junk mail machine. Sending junk mail is super cheap too. It costs almost 50 cents to send a letter, but it only costs 11 cents to send a flyer or circular. Which makes me wonder... why?
Why are we essentially subsidizing something we don't want? We pay A LOT of money to dispose of junk mail - 370 million dollars to be exact. In fact, it costs 550 million dollars a year to transport it alone.
Americans will spend 8 months of their life, just dealing with junk mail! What a complete and utter waste of time.
If zero waste is truly about reducing our consumption of resources and saving time, junk mail seems like the perfect place to start. It's entirely unnecessary, and it all it takes is a little bit of effort.
1. get a sticker:
I have a sticker on my mailbox that clearly states, "NO JUNK MAIL."
According to the Post Master General, this constitutes as an official return to sender. You can also ask for addressed mail only and add your last name.
Of course, this doesn't stop the creation of junk mail. It just stops you from receiving it. It also doesn't stop junk mail that is coming with your name on it.
2. register for the do not mail list:
The do not mail list is essentially the same as the do not call list. Get your name removed from the list to stop junk mail before it even happens.
It can take several weeks for all of the opt-outs to take effect. Sign up and have a little bit of patience.
3. use an app:
Sometimes, opting out still doesn't work. It took about a year before all of my opt-outs finally kicked in, but some things still go through.
Check out the app PaperKarma app. It's really simple to use. You simply take a picture of the unwanted junk mail and they unsubscribe you.
4. send it back:
This one might not be the most effective, but it's certainly satisfying.
If you're feeling a little cheeky, you can always use the return envelope they send you to mail back a firm letter requesting removal from their mailing list. Or you can cram it full with a whole bunch of junk.
Sending the letter back costs the company money. So, make them pay.
5. ask nicely:
In the past, a lot of my mail has come from charities I've donated too. I don't want to be mean. I don't want to cost them more money, but getting junk mail definitely, makes me want to cut off donations.
Most of my donations are set up on a recurring withdrawal. I don't need a reminder. It's automatically deducted.
Most non-profits don't use national databases, therefore you're still on the mailing list even if you opt out. When I donate to a charity, I always write a note stating that my repeat donations hinge on receiving no junk mail.
I haven't received a piece of junk mail since.
6. pick up the phone:
Then there's my least favorite, but arguably the most effective method yet. Pick up the phone and call. Ask to be removed from their mailing list.
This is the most time-consuming method. It can also be very painful when you call and call and somehow still receive junk mail. But, your patience and perseverance will soon be rewarded with an empty mailbox.
What tips and tricks do you have for saying goodbye to junk mail?