Sunday, February 4, 2007
Please Mr. Postman, stop sending me junk WEEK
I'll admit it: I get slightly excited about checking my mail every day. There's always the possibility of something unexpected and fun, right? A postcard from a friend, a magazine, some article clippings from mom. But most days, instead of anything remotely personal, our mail simply reminds us of our position in the world, financially: How much money we owe, that there are unlimited opportunties (pre-approved!) to spend money we don't have, and that there are numerous worthy organizations we could donate to, if only we had more money. Worst of all, of course, is the bulk mail. It really boggles my mind that advertisers actually pay for that--what a waste of money! And of course, of paper and other resources. Think about all the unwanted mail you get and multiply that times the 300 million people in this country...Bottom line, we all get way too much unneccessary mail and it has a monumental effect on our environment. Here are some ways to cut down on the annoyance factor AND save some trees, energy and pollution along the way.
CREDIT CARD OFFERS
Isn't it ironic that the more debt you're in, the more credit card offers you get? Suffice it to say there was a time when I was a prime candidate for those sharks, and I was getting at least 2 offers for new cards every day. Fortunately, those days are behind me, and so are the credit card offers, because I took my name off some creepy master list several months ago. There is a number on every credit card offer that you can call, and it's worked so well that I actually can't find one so I can provide you with the number! But look for that number at the bottom of the offer, or try this opt-out site, which should also do the trick.
JUNK, AKA BULK, MAIL
More than 100 million trees' worth of paper is sent every year as bulk mail in the U.S., according to New American Dream, an organization that is fighting this huge waste. They also estimate that "The production and disposal of junk mail consumes more energy than 2.8 million cars." That ain't peanuts, people! Here are some tips, which I stole from GreenLAgirl's list. (Notes are hers). I just did the online steps and will make the calls tomorrow, so I'll be watching to see how fast each one goes into effect.
Valpak coupons: Go here.
Pennysaver: Call (800) 422-4116. They have odd service hours, but you can leave a message with your address info for removal.
ShopWise (big weekly tabloid-size clump of flyers, and the “Have you seen us?” postcards): Go here, and fill out the online form to be removed in 6-8 weeks.
Money Mailer: Send an email to email@example.com, requesting to be removed from the mailing list and specifying your snailmail address.
Bed Bath & Beyond: Call 800.462.3966 and hold still till you get an operator. Tell her/him your name & address — you should be off the list in a couple weeks.
Also, (this is me again) demand legislation that would create a junk mail opt-out list, just like the one for telemarketers, through New American Dream's campaign.
You might already pay your bills online anyway, but still receive paper statements. Next time you're logged into your various accounts, find the "stop paper bills" function and liberate yourself from paper bill bondage.
Do you receive newspapers, magazines or newsletters that you never get around to reading? Stop subscribing and read them online when you get the urge, or buy one occasionally from a newstand. After college, when I was living alone for the first time, I got suckered into receiving the New York Times every day! (Those salespeople sure are convincing..). I'm pretty sure I liked the idea of appearing intelligent and informed much more than the reality, because I just ended up feeling guilty about the waste and my tiny apartment was always covered in newspaper that I never had time to read. If you don't read it, be smart and stop the madness.
There are so many great organizations out there doing important work in the world. And I'm pretty sure I get a really compelling letter from each of them every month asking me for help. I'm flattered that they think I'm the kind of person who wants to support them (I am!), and when I hit it big, I will! But for now, I wish they would spend their limited resources in other ways, and save some paper along the way. I think the only way to stop this kind of solicitation is to contact each organization and ask to be taken off their list. I'll be saving this one for a really rainy day...