Junk mail fills our mailboxes — 2 pieces a day on average in 2012 — and it can feel nigh impossible to staunch the flow. Sightline published an expose on junk mail in 2016, after a staff member spent years crusading to reduce his own junk mail. Producing the 85 billion pieces of junk mail sent in the US each year uses 111 million trees worth of paper and generates as much carbon dioxide as 2.3 million cars, according to the Product Stewardship Institute. See their alarming junk mail infographic (from 2014) for more stats on junk mail.
Junk mail is a waste of resources. While you can’t get rid of all junk mail, you can declutter a fair chunk of your mailbox. Follow our guide to cut back on your junk mail and reduce the paper waste at your home:
- Unsubscribe from catalogs
- Opt out of coupon packs and other junk mail
- Opt out of pre-screened credit card offers
Then you can opt out or go paperless reduce the paper coming into your home even further:
- Opt out of unwanted phone books
- Go paperless on bills
- Ask not to be added to mailing lists
Three Steps to Cut Your Junk Mail
1. Unsubscribe from Catalogs
- Use Catalog Choice to unsubscribe from major catalogs and mailers
- Use DMAChoice to opt out of catalogs, credit offers, magazine offers, and other junk mail
- Some catalogs may not be listed on either service, in which case you will need to contact them directly. Catalog Choice will help you do this, or you can use the contact information on the catalog.
2. Opt Out of Coupon Packs and Other Junk Mail
- Opt out of Red Plum coupons
- Opt out of Valpak coupons
- Register on the industry-run National Do Not Mail List
3. Opt Out of Pre-Screened Credit Card Offers
Actively Reduce Other Mailings
1. Opt Out of Your Phone Book
Each year the phone book industry uses up an estimated 4.68 million trees worth of wood fiber, or 14 football fields’ worth of forest per day. Printing and delivering that unwanted phone book to your doorstep produces greenhouse gases equal to burning 8.8 pounds of coal.
Here in Kirkland, we receive two phone books, one of which is for Snohomish County businesses. Can’t remember the last time you used a phone book? Opt out of phone book delivery to save waste:
- Visit yellowpagesoptout.com
- Enter your zip code and create an account
- After completing registration, click “opt out of or order directories”
- Choose “opt out of all” option, then “save changes” and hit CONFIRM
2. Go Paperless on Bills
Many of the bills and statements you get in the mail have digital options, like your bank statements, mortgage bills, investment prospectuses, and utility bills. Opt in to paperless options directly on their websites or by calling them.
3. Ask Not to Be Added to Mailing Lists
Many companies and charities have list-sharing arrangements, where they may share their mailing lists with associated companies and charities. (I learned this the hard way, and it took a good bit of work to clear all the new mailings out!) When you make a donation, consider adding a note asking for your information not to be shared, rented, or sold. If some of the businesses you use inform you of information sharing agreements, take the time to opt out. When ordering from a new company online, try adding a note requesting not to be added to their physical mailing list, and also not to have your information shared.