A few years ago, a friend of mine was house sitting for me when she commented that I must be doing a great job of curbing junk mail as there didn't seem to be much of it in my mailbox each day. In fact, just a few months before her comment, I had undertaken the task of removing my name from direct marketers' mailing lists, calling companies directly each time I received an unwanted catalog, credit card offer, or flyer to stop unsolicited mail.


It was a huge task that seemed never ending, but it was worth it in the end when my pile of mail (and thus my piles of garbage) slimmed down tremendously. I tried it as an experiment and considered my operation a success.


But of course, nothing lasts forever, and my name and my address have once again made their way onto those insidious mailing lists. And with the Post Office's recent push to increase junk mail - yeah, you heard that right - it looks like I need to tackle the pile once again.  According to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal, the agency is "running promotions, easing rules and planning television and radio ads to encourage more businesses to send pitches by standard mail."  Great, just what I needed.  More junk mail.


To be honest, I just don't think I have the time or the energy to take on the task — again — of personally calling each company to get off their mailing list. Fortunately, there are now a number of services that can tackle this endeavor for me.


41pounds offers a five-year plan to curb junk mail. You just fill out a form and pay the $41 fee (good for all five years) and they contact 20 to 35 direct marketing companies and catalog companies and instruct them to remove your name from their distribution lists. This is great for catalogs, unsolicited credit card offers, magazine offers, etc.  


Another option is Catalog Choice. This free service allows you to go online and choose the catalogs you want to stop receiving.  The company sends the request and within a month or two you should be off the list. The great thing about this service is that it's free and you can unsubscribe from a number of catalogs at the click of a button. The not-so-great thing is that it can be tedious to search through their database of catalogs and to be sure that you have entered your mailing info exactly as it appears on your mailing label for each catalog. For $20/year you can utilize the company's premium service to get your name off the lists.


But it's their newest service that I'm kind of excited about. For $6.75 you can purchase one of their MailStop envelopes. Then you just fill it up with the mailing labels from unwanted mail and send it back in. Collect up to 15 mailing labels at a time, drop the envelope in the mail, and they'll take care of the rest. I can do that — particularly this time of year when every company under the sun is trying to get me to buy their stuff. Now I can just rip off their mailing label, toss it in the envelope, and mail it in when I fill it up. Now that I can handle.


Junk mail-free for 2012? Sounds like a plan!


New ways to eliminate junk mail
New options make it easy to curb junk mail and put your mailbox on a diet.