Take 20 Minutes (or less) to Reduce Junk Mail by 90%

by on May 23, 2013 · 6 comments

in Environment, Media

By John P. Anderson / San Diego Free Press

junkmailWant to reduce the amount of trash and recycling you have each week? Reducing the amount of junk mail you receive is a good place to start. Below I’ve compiled a convenient list of the websites and companies you should contact to most effectively reduce the junk mail you received.

Here are a few figures from a post by NYU Law School that highlight the environmental impact of junk mail:

  • 5.6 million tons of catalogs and other direct mail advertisements end up in U.S. landfills annually
  • The average American household receives 848 pieces of junk mail per household, equal to 1.5 trees every year – more than 100 million trees for all U.S. households combined.
    • 100 million trees a year is the equivalent of deforesting all of Rocky Mountain National Park every four months.
  • Largely due to deforestation, junk mail manufacturing creates as much greenhouse gas emissions annually as 3.7 million cars.

Similar to the Do Not Call Registry to stop telemarketers and others from harassing you by phone there are similar services available to handle junk mail, although none are as comprehensive as the Do Not Call Registry is for calls. The following are the sites for the largest opt-out services. The below requests will take less than 20 minutes to complete and greatly reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. Please note that it will likely take a few weeks for the services to process your requests and stop sending mail your way.

  • Direct Marketing Association (Mass Mailing Industry Group)
  • Opt-Out Prescreen (Credit Card Offers and Credit Rating Agencies)
    • This is a 5-year opt out – if you’d like to opt out permanently you can print the completed 5-year form and mail in a signed copy. The site makes this very easy to do.
  • Yellow Pages – Highly recommend signing up for this one since phone books are massive. When I opted out on this site I was surprised to find my address is serviced by 7(!) separate yellow book companies.

In San Diego there are a few more companies that are likely sending junk mail your way. Opt out via the following methods.

  • U-T San Diego – Even if you’re not a subscriber to the local newspaper you likely find advertisements delivered to your driveway occasionally. The U-T does not have an online opt-out per my conversation with a representative but you can opt-out by calling 800-533-8830 (then Option 6 to be connected to a person) and requesting to be removed from all mailing lists. This includes enlace (Spanish newspaper), San Diego Extra, and Local Community Values (advertisement mailings).
  • Red Plum – The thick coupon and advertisement mailings that arrive weekly to many homes in San Diego.
  • Pennysaver – Another weekly advertisement mailing that includes many classified-type ads.

Opting out via the above links will address most of your junk mail. For specific companies / mailings in the future Catalog Choice is a good tool to manage unwanted catalogs and mail. Catalog Choice assists with opt-out requests for specific companies that send you mail (Cox, Home Depot, etc.) that may not fall into the above categories and be covered by a general opt-out request. Catalog Choice also offers a fee service, MailStop Shield, that can be purchased for $35 a year to stop junk mail.

41pounds.org is another pay service for junk mail reduction. This service costs $41 and they will remove you from a host of mass marketers, and manage your junk mail for 5 years. Additionally, a third of your payment goes to environmental non-profits and public works. I haven’t used this service but have heard good things. The name is for the average of 41 pounds of junk mail received per adult American per year.

Reducing the junk mail you receive will help to reduce the amount of trees harvested to produce the mail and the resources expended to process the waste stream created when disposed of.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Happy in OB May 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Here’s a great trick for junk mail that I get!
if there is a return envelope with postage paid included in the original junk, I take that envelope and fill it with everything they sent, even the envelope it came in, and whatever else is laying around, remove anything that has my name on it then I stuff that Postage Paid envelope to overflowing and sometimes use tape to seal it! the company that sent it to you will have to pay the extra postage because now it’s overweight!
it takes a few minutes, but in the end I feel better :)


avatar Teri June 4, 2013 at 5:56 pm

I return toilet paper! (unused) I think your idea is much better, extra postage and all… :)


avatar Michael Carnahan May 23, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Before you eliminate your so called “junk mail” please be mindful of the local jobs that will be impacted, from the businesses that advertise, to the printers that create these ads, to the people that handle the recycling, and of course, your friendly, dependable, letter carrier.


avatar John Anderson June 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm

Michael – I agree that if there is utility in mailings junk mail might be a misnomer. However, perpetuating the creation and destruction of mass amounts of resources simply because ‘it’s somebody’s job’ is a poor reason to continue on the same course.


avatar John Loughlin May 25, 2013 at 12:33 am

If you have a smartphone (iOS or Android) then you might try Paperkarma https://www.paperkarma.com
Simply take a photo of the offending catalog or mailing that you don’t want, and submit. Paperkarma take care of the rest. They identify the piece of mail and contact the vendor asking them to remove your details from their mailing list. The app lets you know the status of each submission unobtrusively, and is easy to use.


avatar John Anderson June 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Thanks for the heads up. Hadn’t heard of this before but just downloaded and going to give it a spin. Yellow pages are easy to stop, but the random mailings here and there can be tricky to pin down.


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