Junk mail is not only a minor inconvenience in your daily life, but it also takes a toll on the environment.
Nearly 100 million trees are cut down annually to make junk mail in the U.S., according to the Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition, and ForestEthics found that junk mail’s carbon footprint is equal to the greenhouse gases released by 9 million cars or heating 13 million homes in the winter.
Tackling the piles of junk mail that are delivered to your mailbox every week can seem like a daunting task, but here are some simple steps you can follow to start reducing your junk mail, de-cluttering your home and helping the environment.
1.Choose your catalogs
To reduce the amount of unwanted catalogs you receive, you could contact each catalog individually and ask for your name and address to be removed from its mailing list.
Or you could join the free website, Catalog Choice, where you select the catalog and mailing option, and the Berkeley nonprofit will send the request to the catalog for you. Your Catalog Choice dashboard lists the catalogs they have contacted and updates you when the catalog has confirmed your request – so you don’t have to keep track of all that information yourself.
Still want to receive Crate and Barrel’s holiday catalog? No problem. You can choose different mailing options through Catalog Choice: You can opt out of receiving the catalog entirely, accept delivery twice or four times a year or request only the holiday edition.
2. Cut down on credit card offers
You can easily opt out of credit card and insurance offers by filling out an online form at OptOutPrescreen.com, a service that prevents consumer credit companies like Equifax and Experian from providing your information to credit and insurance companies.
Note that you are not required to provide your Social Security number, even though you will be asked for it. You can choose to opt out of these promotional offers for either five years or permanently.
3. Ditch the direct mail
Now that you’ve stopped the stream of catalogs and credit card offers, it’s time to work on direct mail, or advertising mail such as circulars, flyers and coupon packs.
The Direct Marketing Association, which represents about 80 percent of the total volume of marketing mail in the U.S., allows you to remove your name from their marketing lists at DMAchoice.org.
To opt out of the RedPlum coupon book and PennySaver circular, submit a request to be removed from their mailing lists on the “Contact Us” page on their websites. Stop delivery of Valpak coupons by filling out this online form.
4. Put the phone book on hold
If you’ve traded in your phone book for online searches on your computer or smart phone, you may wonder why you need a phone book at all anymore. While San Francisco residents will soon only receive a copy of the Yellow Pages if they opt in to delivery, consumers across the country can opt out of receiving the phone book at YellowPagesOptOut.com.