Update 3/20/15: It's working! We're getting almost no junk mail now.
Check it out! In about 15 minutes, you can stop that annoying junk mail and feel good about your climate action.
Click these 4 links to stop your junk mail for free:
When I first posted my blog on Facebook, my dear brother commented, “If we could just stop junk mail alone…”
Made me think. How bad is junk mail for the environment, anyway? Aren’t I neutralizing any toll on the environment by recycling it?
Turns out a lot of natural resources go into making a sheet of paper. I already knew the death of a tree was involved. One article from BizJournals.com says a ton of catalog paper uses nearly 8 trees. Heck, I’m pretty sure I get that much from IKEA and Room & Board alone. And here are some more stats on junk mail from NYU Law School:
The NYU article has a couple of typos, and cites to About.com and Creative Citizen as support, so I’m not sure how reliable it is. (Come on, NYU! I would have expected more out of you.) But even if it’s only partly right, that still a lot of environmental harm.
So can we undo that harm by recycling? No doubt, recycling is better than not recycling. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, studies are “virtually unanimous” in confirming that recycling saves energy. Recycling newsprint takes 40% less energy than virgin fiber use. The EPA states that recycling a ton of paper saves 7,000 gallons of water and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 1 metric ton of carbon equivalent (whatever that means – more research to be done).
But it’s still better for the environment not to make and distribute the junk mail in the first place. And here’s the punch line you’ve been waiting for… it’s pretty easy to stop the junk mail.
Blessed by the Federal Trade Commission: If you trust the FTC, here are 2 ways to stop junk mail:
1. To stop pre-approved credit card and insurance offers: OptOutPreScreen.com. The form there looks scary in that it asks for your social security number. But on further investigation, I found that your SSN is not required. Whew.
2. To stop other mail: DMAChoice.org stops mailings “from organizations that use the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service”. (Who knows which orgs those are, but hopefully they include Victoria’s Secret, from which I hardly ever buy, but which sends me mail about every 3 days. Vicky – do the math! You’re losing money on me.)
To stop junk mail: Hard as it may be to believe, a company called DirectMail.com has a free service to stop junk mail from companies that use DirectMail.com. Again, who knows which companies those are, but I’m willing to try it out for the sake of the planet. I checked it out and it looks legit – with the caveat that it may take 3 months to see the decline in junk mail. I signed up. I’ll keep you posted.
To stop catalogs: CatalogChoice.org lets you pick off your catalogs one by one, by name. It’s not a one-hit fix like DMAChoice or DirectMail, but its lookup feature is pretty good. Plus, I just got a great deal of environmental satisfaction by stopping Victoria’s Secret just now. I’ll let you know how many days it took for the request to take effect.