Junk mail. Its very name implies something that we don’t want or need. I know at our house, it tends to make up the majority of the mail we get any given day. What can you do with it all? Some people recycle it, either at home or bring it to the closest Abitibi bin, those green/yellow, dumpster-like containers that are usually located next to non-profits. Others may choose to use it as scrap paper or even shred it to add it to their compost.
While it is good to recycle/compost junk mail, it is much better to stop it from coming altogether, especially when you start to do some research on its impact. For example, 100 million trees are cut down each year just to produce junk mail. The EPA reports that 60% of junk mail ends up in the landfill. Furthermore, it is estimated that junk mail produces more than 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year – which is equivalent to 9 million passenger cars.
So if you want to stop junk mail from ever reaching your mailbox, how do you do it? I started by stopping catalogs from coming to our house. Even though most people order everything online, some companies will still send catalogs by mail. A quick call to the company can put a stop to the mailings. They are usually pre-printed, so after about 60-90 days, they will stop coming for good.
After getting our catalogs under control, I then evaluated who else was frequently mailing us, and if I did not want their physical correspondence, I would place a call to have it stopped. If I still wanted to receive information from them, I would give them my email address.
There are a few paid services that purport to make it easy for you to get rid of all of your junk mail. PaperKarma is one. I used their service many years ago when it was free and it worked very well. They now have an app to make it even easier to stop mailings, but you do have to pay a fee.
I also just signed up for $2 for DMAchoice, which I learned about from the Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC). DMAchoice will ensure you stop getting all kinds of junk mail — you just need to tell them what you want and don’t want (credit card offers, catalogs, Valupak, etc.). The PRC has many other suggestions as to how to stop junk mail.
Junk mail has a huge environmental impact, but it masquerades as a common annoyance. By engaging in just one or two of the practices described above, you can really make a difference!
Andy is a longtime member of Beth El’s Social Action Committee. Read more about the challenges and rewards of recycling at his blog Redefining Trash