Did you know…each year, more than 100 million trees’ worth of bulk mail arrive in American mailboxes—that’s the equivalent of deforesting the entire Rocky Mountain National Park every four months. The production and disposal of direct mail consumes more energy than 3 million cars.
Reduce your Paper Junk Mail!
One easy way to save trees and energy is by getting off mailing lists and preventing unsolicited mail from coming to you. Here’s a step-by-step guide for reducing unwanted mail:
1. Cut the Credit Card Offers
The main consumer credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax, maintain mailing lists that are often used by credit card and insurance companies to send out junk mail. The good news is that you can call a single number to get your name and address removed from the mailing lists circulated by all three agencies (as well as that of a fourth company, Innovis).
The number—which connects you to a recorded message—works 24 hours a day. When you use the website or number, you will be prompted to give your full name, address, telephone number, and social security number. (People often ask about the necessity of giving their social security number. The credit bureaus already have access to these numbers and claim that they ask for them here to confirm the requests). You may select to have your name removed for five years (can be done online or via phone), or to have your name removed permanently which requires following up by sending in a printed form.
2. Prevent Marketers from Passing Your Name Around
Any time you order a product by mail, enter a contest, subscribe to a magazine, send in a warranty card, or otherwise give your name and address to a company or organization, you may be placed on a mailing list. The company or organization may then rent, sell, or trade the list with your name on it. To limit your exposure, write "Please do not rent or sell my name" or "No mailing lists" next to your name. (Also consider not sending in the warranty card for a new product--it's usually not required.)
3. Ask Companies to Stop Sending Catalogs
If you receive unwanted catalogs or other mail from specific sources, call the (often toll-free) customer service number of the organization or business. Request that your name be removed from their mailing list. Other options are to make your request via e-mail from the company's website, or via letter or postcard. Since the mailing label will help the company identify how you are listed in its files, have the label handy when you call, or tape it to the postcard if you make a written request. Sign and date your request.
4. Opt-Out of Junk Mail
There are several online services you can use to remove your name from catalog and credit card lists and other databases:
41pounds.org can help you eliminate 80–95 percent of junk mailings by contacting dozens of direct marketers on your behalf. The one-time fee of $41 covers every adult in your household for five years, and more than a third of this fee is donated to the environmental or community organization of your choice.
- Catalog Choice offers two options: a free service that sends opt-out requests for individual companies that are already marketing to you, and a premium "unlisting" service that, for an annual donation of $20 or more, is designed to remove your name from data brokers who sell your contact information to marketers.
- You can register online with the Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mail Preference Service to remove your name from national mailing lists.
- Contact Publishers Clearinghouse (by phone at 800.645.9242 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) and Readers Digest (by phone at 800.310.6261) to be removed from sweepstakes lists.
- Contact CoxTarget to stop receiving Val-Pak coupons.