Most people would agree that getting rid of junk mail altogether would be a great idea, and that there should laws. It is beyond annoying – almost sanity snapping – that one should have to sift through piles of credit card applications, catalogs, and sweepstakes offers just to find things that actually belong in the mailbox. Beyond staying mentally stable, we should all work to get rid junk mail for two very important reasons: environment and data protection.
First of all, junk mail is tremendously harmful to the environment and unsustainable. It is vital for humankind’s war against Mother Nature and ultimate goal of changing the climate. Over 100 million trees are used annually so that you can “Win Millions Instantly.” Of the 40 million tons of junk mail produced each year, almost half is directly deposited in landfills without even so much as a “what is this now?” Still unmoved? Well, on to that second reason people should fight to stop junk mail: the obscenely lucrative business of buying and selling your personal information is a major cause of identity theft. While it is impossible to get rid of junk mail completely, there are ways to lighten the burden on your mailbox, the environment, and your mind.
But, if you want to see if you can add more junk to your mail, you could check out books like How to Make a Fortune With Your Junk Mail at Amazon.
Best Ways to Stop Junk Mail
To get rid of junk mail from companies offering “prescreened” or “preapproved” loans or credit, call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or visit www.optoutprescreen.com.
This will stop junk mail resulting from Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Innovis giving out your credit score and history. They must stop the mail by law, but they don’t make it easy. By phone, the last bit of information they ask for is your social security number, which is preposterous. I believe this is just to make people nervous and discourage opting out, as it seems like sending your daughter on a date with a guy who just slept with your wife.
By using the Direct Marketer’s Association’s “Mail Preference Service” you will get rid of another significant portion of your junk mail.
The DMA represents hoards of businesses, including many in Fortune’s top 100. You can send them a letter, but it will cost you $1, which seems like paying off a bully; however, you can register for free on their website. The DMA will keep you off mailing lists for five years, and then slam you with junk mail if you forget to re-up. They will use your email to SPAM you to death, so have a dummy account set up for such registrations. That’ll save quite a few headaches from impeding on your useful accounts.
Completing a U.S. Post Office Form 1500 is a great way to get rid of junk mail from specific organizations.
If they persist after this, it is a criminal act. You can find the form on the USPS website. You’ll notice that the form seems to only protect against sexually provocative junk mail, but according to law, anything you deem arousing is fair game. If you think an advertisement for a sofa is “hot”, then it is…no judgement from me. Fill out the form and attach the “opened” piece of junk mail, and bring it to your post office.
Reduce junk mail by avoiding customer surveys, sweepstakes applications, product registrations, warranty cards, and customer loyalty cards.
That free magazine may seem like a sweet deal, but the organization putting out the survey will march your personal information around like a cheap hooker (sorry prostitutes). Why would a company need your personal information to insure their product? And those customer loyalty cards aren’t just about loyalty; the stores that offer them give you a discount by turning a profit with your information. Some stores will honor your written request to “not sell or share name or information.”
Get rid of junk mail without any hassles by subscribing to a service like Private-Citizen.com or 41pounds.org.
Basically theses services will take the above steps and more to prevent junk mail and junk calls from invading your privacy. Private Citizen will charge you $30 a year to significantly lessen junk calls and junk mail. 41pounds.org is a non-profit organization that focuses on the environmental impacts of junk mail, and will even donate a portion of your fee to the charity of your choice.
More Junk Mail Solutions
Write your state representative to raise awareness about the personal and environmental effects of junk mail.
It may seem like a waste of time, as direct marketing firms have powerful lobbyists camped in Washington, but they are feeling the heat. Global climate change can no longer be kept under the rug, and the explosion of identity theft has created armies of enraged citizens. In time, perhaps we can get rid of junk mail and its fallout forever.
Now that you have the junk mail, do the right thing and recycle it.
However, if the junk mail came with a return envelope, cram it full of unwanted advertisements and send it back. Let them recycle it. Another way to reduce junk mail waste is by using it for scrap paper – just be sure to later shred the stuff that comes with too much information.
Why We Unfortunately Can’t Completely Get Rid of Junk Mail
If most people knew how much of their detailed personal information was being collected, rented, sold, and traded, they would either take action or need a new pair of pants. The Lords of junk mail – or direct marketing – know where you live, how much you make, your credit score, social security number, where you shop, and perhaps even the nature of your most recent bowel movement. Even before the Patriot Act, the government wasn’t keen on your right to privacy. When you get married, divorced, have a child, or even register to vote, this information is stored in data bases and becomes fair game for anyone willing to purchase it. Is your phone number in the white pages? If so, it is easily available to marketers, and they’ll know how much you make and perhaps what you’d buy based on your address. Any time you fill out any form for a purchase, you can bet your stats are going places. In the end, your personal information is being thrown around like poker chips at a table full of drunks. Also, it is responsible for keeping the US Postal system running. If you like being able to write to any one in the world, the USPS needs profits.
If you still want to do something with the amount of junk mail, you could always consider composting it in a composter like the Worm Factory from Amazon.