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How to Stop Junk Mail – Day 26 of the Zero Waste Challenge

31 Day Zero Waste Challenge

Last Updated on January 23, 2024

Junk mail is annoying, and I’m going to show you all the ways you can breakup with junk mail – for good!

Today, I’m challenging you to spend 30 minutes unsubscribing from the junk mail you receive.

How to Stop Junk Mail - Day 26 of the Zero Waste Challenge from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #gogreen #sustainable #zerowastechallenge #challenge #sustainablelivingchallenge #junkmail

It’s day twenty-six of the zero waste challenge! The beginning of the challenge is focused on simple swaps like bringing your own water bottle and bags to the grocery store.

The second phase of the challenge is focused on lifestyle changes like learning to make your own snacks, decluttering your life the zero waste way, and conserving natural resources.

Now, we’re into the third phase of the challenge. The activism phase.

The phase where you get to get a little outside of yourself and work on bringing change at a whole new level.

(I will say a couple of posts are out of order.

We had an activism post earlier in the challenge and we’ll have a lifestyle change in this section, but you can forgive me, right!? Thanks 🙂

Today, I’m challenging you to stop junk mail!

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the problem:

Yes, junk mail is annoying, but it’s also 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. 

the solution:

I’ve rounded up my five top tips for preventing junk mail.

1. write a note: 

I have a sticker on my mailbox that clearly states, “NO JUNK MAIL.” You can also just tape a note to your mail box. You don’t have to have a fancy sticker.l

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. 

This is just a temporary fix while we work on stopping junk mail in other ways.

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 come through. 

Check out the app PaperKarma. It’s simple to use. You simply take a picture of the unwanted junk mail and they unsubscribe you. 

4. ask when you sign up:

Most of my junk mail comes from charities I donate to. Getting junk mail from them, honestly makes me not want to donate….

Most of my donations are set up on a recurring withdrawal. I don’t need a junk mail 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 ask that I be removed from their mailing lists upfront with the donation.

Typically they’re more than happy to oblige.

5. pick up the phone: 

This is my least favorite method (what can I say, I’m a millennial who hates getting on the phone), but arguably the most effective method.

Pick up the phone, call, and 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. 

take the challenge:

Junk mail is a nuisance, and it’s not super great for the environment. Besides, I don’t know a single person that really looks forward to receiving a bunch of newsletters and flyers in their mail box.

Spend 30 minutes, unsubscribing yourself from mailing lists and put a note on your mailbox asking for addressed mail only.

Will you be taking the challenge?

want more?

Just starting out? Have 1,000 burning questions!? Get access to my private Facebook group, where I’ll be hosting weekly lives throughout the challenge and I answer all of your most pressing questions.

PLUS! I’ll be sending out a brand new e-book at the end of the challenge called the Game On Handbook which is all about individual ways to fight climate change.

You don’t want to miss it.

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