What kills 100 million trees a year, uses 28 billion gallons of water, and weighs about 70 pounds?
That's right, ladies and gentlemen, those useless flyers, magazines, and pamphlets you get alongside your bills and magazine subscriptions every month are taking a serious toll on the earth.
According to the Center for a New American Dream, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting responsible consumerism, the average American receives 11 pieces of unsolicited junk mail each week (they obviously weren't averaging in the amount I get each week). Regardless it's time to step up and take your name off the list ... you'll be saving yourself and the environment.
All it takes is a few minutes of your time. Just follow these steps from The Wvb:
De-list your name.
Most senders of unsolicited junk mail get your name and address from one of three sources: Abacus Catalog Alliance (catalogs), Direct Marketing Association (fliers, brochures, etc.), or the credit bureaus (credit card and insurance offers). Take the time to wipe your name from these lists.
Pick up the phone.
- Abacus Catalog Alliance: Signing up permanently halts the catalog mailings from association members. Email email@example.com with your full name and current address.
- Direct Marketing Association: Stops direct mail marketing from association companies for five years. There is a $1 fee. Access forms here for online or mail-in submission.
- OptOutPrescreen.com: This joint venture of the three credit bureaus puts a stop to prescreened credit and insurance solicitations. Sign up to halt these mailings for five years, or stop them permanently. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT, or fill out a form.
Unfortunately, not every company sending junk mail your way belongs to one of these big three. Plus, companies with which you have a business relationship - from your credit-card issuer to that Internet retailer you ordered from once - can (and will) continue to send you mail. When you get a stray piece of junk, curb that initial impulse to throw it out, give the company's toll-free number a call and ask to be removed from the mailing list. Look for a customer number on the label, which may help the reps access your records more quickly.
Mind your mail forwarding.
Here's a dirty little secret: One of the biggest generators of junk mail is the post office itself. So once you move - and fill out the mail-forwarding form at the post office - your new address can wind up back on every junk mail and direct marketer's list. And asking the post office not to give out your new info won't work - providing your new address to any company that wants it significantly cuts the cost of rerouting your mail. So here's what you do: Mark your move as temporary
for six months. This way, your information won't get passed along, says Stephens. Keep in mind this will involve more work for you: You'll need to contact those companies with whom you do business (magazines, doctors, insurance companies and so on) to let them know individually of your new address.
Spread the word.
To more effectively reduce the amount of junk mail you receive, encourage your family to follow your lead. Joint holders on a credit-card account, for example, will continue to get prescreened credit-card offers until both have opted out of receiving them.
Maintain your privacy.
Any time you give out your address - whether you're filling out a warranty card, entering a sweepstakes or purchasing an item online - you're signing over your information for direct mailing. Limit the number of companies you disclose your contact information to and always look for a box to opt out of allowing the company to share that personal information.
Keep at it.
Once you're off a company or group's list, you'll stop receiving mailings within 60 days. But unless your opt-out comes with a specific time frame (Direct Marketing Association, for example, requires you to renew your request every five years) it's easy to end up back on a list.
If you don't want to do it completely yourself ... Greendimes will do its part to help with junk mail by helping do it for you. Sign up for their service, and for ten cents a day, they will stalk, scream, and stop the madness on your behalf. But they don't stop there. They also help reforestation by planting a new tree for every member monthly.
Choose from three membership levels: Seedlings pay $3 a month (plus credit card fees), Saplings pay $36 per year, and Trees are freed from junk mail for life for just $360. This is no small feat on their end -- because as mentioned above -- each time you move, donate money to charity, buy something from a catalog, or even get a new credit card, your name gets sold to more lists.