Q: I never realized how much junk mail I got. I just returned from vacation and had a stack of junk mail taller than a fondue tower at Ivanka Trump’s wedding reception. What a waste of paper. This has got to be bad for the environment. Any suggestions on how to reduce the junk mail I get?
A: I hate junk mail. Hate it. Not so much because of the waste of paper (although it seems to be a colossal waste of paper — why is Gardening Weekly allowed to send out that massive circular every week? And how did they get my address?), but because I hate clutter. Cleaning out my closets and organizing junk drawers is my idea of a perfect Sunday. Add in my husband’s drawers (which he won’t let me touch) and you’ve put me smack in the middle of my own personal heaven.
I love the rush of cleaning and organizing and the finished product at the end — it probably has something to do with the sense of control it gives me in a world of chaos (at least that’s what my therapist told me), but I don’t care why I like it. I just do. So when this question came along, I jumped at the chance to answer it with all my junk mail-purging wisdom.
First things first. Do you still get hard copies of your bills? Are you still mailing checks out to your credit card company, your electric company and your cable company? Then you need to go paperless. All it takes is a few clicks on each Web site, and presto, no more paper bills. Not only are you saving the paper that goes into printing your bill, but you’re saving the check, the envelope and the stamp that you send back to them by setting up all of your bills for online bill-pay. You’re reducing your carbon footprint, too (no more bills to pick up from the company’s headquarters in Podunk, Minn., and deliver all the way to your house). Just make sure you store your login name and passwords to all those sites in a safe place so you can actually get into your online account.
Next are all those Valpak and SuperCoup packages you get. Never have I received a coupon in the mail for an establishment that I actually frequent (Merry Maids, my foot. I clean the bathrooms myself!), so why the need to keep receiving these? You can simply go to the Valpak website, click on "Contact Us," then click on "Mailing List" and request to be removed from their coupon mailings.
Can’t you imagine your junk mail pile just disappearing before your very eyes already?
Probably your most effective tactic for reducing junk mail is going to the DMA Web site. The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) is a trade organization for more than 3,600 direct mail companies. Sign up for their service free of charge, and from there, you can manage what mail you receive and don’t receive. They will contact the companies and have them take you off their mailing lists, and the companies have to comply. In fact, many of the companies are happy to comply because by taking you (someone who doesn’t really care for their particular catalog) off their mailing list, they are reducing their cost while also targeting the consumers who might actually buy their products. It’s a win-win for everyone.
What about all those unwanted credit card solicitations? Go to www.optoutprescreen.com to remove yourself from such mailings for a five-year period or permanently.
If you’re looking for some motivation, check out this article on the not-so-small carbon footprint of junk mail.
Bottom line is this, folks: Purging your junk mail is great way to go green right at home. And if clearing out clutter does for you what it does for me? You’re going to feel great afterward … and you might need to see a therapist.