Poof! Junk Mail-Be-Gone! How To Rid Your Mailbox Of Needless Paper
Disclosure: Hey there, some (not all) of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click through and purchase, I’ll get a commission (chicken treat money, not enough to buy a pony) at no extra cost to you. I only include recommendations that I believe will add value to your life, and linking to them is meant to be a convenience. The opinions expressed are my own and I will not accept payment for pre-determined reviews. Also, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Thank you for your support!
Does your mailbox get so full of junk mail that you have a hard time seeing your actual mail through the haze of catalogs, pre-screened credit offers, and solicitations? Then this week’s post is for you! It’s all about adding to our sustainability index by getting rid of the extraneous paper that clutters our mailboxes! Welcome to the third week of our 11-Weeks To A Green Home sustainability series.
Going paperless is an excellent step in creating a sustainable home. Virgin paper uses a lot of trees. Recycled paper, while saving trees, uses a lot of toxic chemicals in the recycling process and often has significant amounts of hormone-disrupting BPA. [read more about how plastics leach hormone disruptors in our post It’s Time To Break Up With Plastic] The less we choose to use the better. If everyone in the US went paperless and eliminated junk mail in their mailbox, each year we would:
• Save over 5.6 million tons of paper waste in landfills
• Save over 100 million trees
• Reduce the greenhouse gas emission equivalent of 3.7 million cars
• Save about $370 million in disposal fees.
Going paperless with my bills was a necessity for me because I have a little problem with checking my mail, as in I forget to do it. It’s a bad habit I got into as a young adult with a P.O. Box. What kept happening was a consistently overflowing mailbox ENTIRELY of junk mail. It was frustrating, especially since main-stream coupons are lost on me. So I scoured the interwebs and got serious about cleaning up my mailbox. A year later my mailbox stays clear for most of the month outside of the occasional rando solicitation! Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to reduce the amount of paper you receive in your mailbox.
Opt-In For Paperless
The first step is to separate your important mail from the junk and start having your essential mail delivered electronically. All of your bills, credit card statements, bank statements and other important pieces of mail you receive can be accessed more reliably through paperless statements online. To take advantage of the paperless option, you can call or go online to your customer/member area and select to receive your documents online.
Are you a little leery about having sensitive information stored in some newfangled “cloud” all the tweens are talking about? No problemo! You can get a portable external hard-drive and store all your documents in a safe, non-cloud device that only you can access when it’s plugged into your computer. I use Western Digital portable hard drives and like them a lot.
Request “Special Offers” By Email Only
While you’re on the phone with your bank and/or credit card companies requesting paperless statements, ask them to stay on their “in house” list which means they won’t trade or circulate your information to other credit card or financing companies. Ask to go paperless with their special offers as well. This will get rid of the blank checks and promotional mailings they are legally allowed to send you unless you request otherwise. You will still be able to receive all that your card company has to offer, but only electronically. As an added bonus, you’ll reduce your risk of identity theft! True story, it happened to my parents! Someone stole their mail which had those blank checks from their credit card company. It sucked for them to get it all straightened out.
Opt Out Of All Unwanted Catalogues
Did you order something once from a company and keep receiving their quarterly or annual catalogs that you can just as easily view online? This is what happened to me when I started ordering seeds and baby chickens. I got on the mailing list. If you really love the catalog and use it regularly then sure, go ahead and keep it! If you look at it once and it goes straight to the bin, call them and ask to be removed from the mailing list.
Remove Your Address from Direct Mail Lists
This is where a lot of bulk junk mail originates. Publications like ValPak and Redplum are notorious for shiny, hard-to-recycle pages of ads galore. Did you know that most of these companies have an online edition, so you don’t have to miss out on coupons if you want them?!? If you still want to receive some types of direct mail, you can specify what you’d like to opt-in and opt out of on this site for the Data & Marketing Agency.
For removing your name and address from credit card and insurance “pre-screened/ pre-approved” solicitations, click HERE.
RedPlum is special. They have a separate opt-out process just for them. You can remove yourself from their list by going HERE.
Valpak also requires a specific opt-out from their mailings by going HERE.
Send Back Unwanted Mail
For years, I’d shred unsolicited junk mail up and send it back in the included self-addressed-stamped-envelopes. It cost them double the mailing. It was a tip that was handed down to me by a brazen activist/author who has long since passed. Unfortunately, direct mail companies have wised up to that little trick and now advise people to go online to take advantage of their offers, doh! Ah well, you can still send back unsolicited offers by writing “Refused, Returned To Sender” if the mail is sent by first class or has return service requested, forwarding service requested, address service requested, or change service requested.
Keeping Your Mailbox Clear
It’ll take a while once you go through all the address removal processes to stop receiving junk mail. RedPlum’s system takes up to 90 days to fully cycle through and remove your address. In the meantime, keep writing “refused, returned to sender” on all the unwanted mail you can and just pop it back in your mailbox with the red flag pointed skyward! Within a (relatively) short time, you’ll have a clean mailbox, ready for the occasional greeting card or important letter that you’ll actually see cause it won’t be tucked into a bunch of wasted trees.
Coming Up Next Week
We’re gonna stay on the “saving trees” train next week and discuss taking your paper products to the next level. If you’d like to have my posts on your favorite topics sent to you instead of trying to remember to come back and check for a new article, please SUBSCRIBE to our email group and select which topics you want to read about! I’d love to send new articles directly to you, electronically of course!