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.

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.

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, 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...


Unknown said...

Great tips! If you need help to get off junk mail lists or just want someone else to do it for you, consider GreenDimes. GreenDimes gets you off all those direct mail lists and plants a tree for you every month. Find out more at

Shauna said...

just used the online "optout" website. I get a ton of these offers and I'm not even in debt!

Becky L. said...

I did the credit card offer opt-out a few months ago, too. At the time, I kind of doubted that the credit card companies (evil incarnate!) would actually listen. But they did! I've totally stopped getting that crap, which is awesome not just because of the trees being saved, but it limits the risk of identity theft, too.

Anonymous said...

I happen to be one of the owners of MyJunkTree and as a new company I search the web to see if we are getting any visibility out there and I post on relevant blogs.

We launched the company because we were tired of all the junk mail we were receiving and we personally did not want to bounce all over the web to contact all the different companies to stop it all. First and foremost we wanted to let people choose what they wanted to let come to their home knowing that some people really do like some of the coupons and catalogs. So our clients choose what they want stopped.

We also had to provide a service that is different than the other services out there, so here is what we offer:

1. We have a database of over 1300 catalogs that you can choose to stop.
2. We have over a 4000 charities/Non-Profits that you can stop solicitations from.
3. Stop the delivery of the national phone directories.
4. Stop the delivery of the weekly coupons.
5. Stop the general credit card offers as well as the ones from your own major bank.
6. Stop the miscellaneous junk mail from the data brokers.
7. You can register on the National Do Not Call Registry from the website.
8. You can order your no strings attached free annual credit report right from the website.
9. We plant trees with every new membership.

And, yes we are a paid service and yes you can do everything that we do for free, if you want to do all the research and spend the time contacting the companies yourself it can easily be done. We have just done all of the legwork for our clients and feel there is value in the service we provide.

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