You may recall a time early in your childhood when you were actually excited to receive mail. The joy of opening up an envelope addressed specifically to you may have given you a burst of gratification or some temporary meaning.
Unfortunately for most of us, those days are gone. We have entered the grown-up world of bills, bills, and more bills. Emails have replaced informal written notes, and Facebook posts have replaced birthday cards. As we face this reality shock, one thing remains fixed – junk mail.
Aside from being a common household annoyance, junk mail is responsible for a significant percentage of waste production. In fact, 5.6 million tons of junk mail is discarded in U.S. landfills annually. The financial cost: Americans cough up $370 million each year to dispose of unrecycled junk mail.
Don’t fret—the solution is just a couple clicks away.
1) Free Ways to Rid Yourself of Junk Mail
Since it’s almost impossible to determine who is selling your mailbox’s real estate space, the question becomes: How do I stop it at its source?
As you may expect, the process of targeting each and every source of junk mail on your own is time consuming and frustrating. However, modern innovation has developed a quick and simple resolution.
Catalog Choice, a non-profit group, has created a new, free service that helps households easily target every source, and “unsubscribe” in less than 10 seconds. Their directory of companies is extensive, and their website is extremely user-friendly.
The best part about it: you don’t have to deal with anyone on the other end. You can easily remove your address with no questions asked, and if you continue to receive mail, you can file a formal complaint.
It’s not surprising that over 1 million households and businesses have created their free Catalog Choice accounts. And this is just the beginning.
If you want to opt out of all “prescreened offers of credit and insurance,” check out OptOutPrescreen.com. As its website clearly states, OptOutPrescreen.com is the “official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website to accept and process requests from consumers to Opt-In or Opt-Out of firm offers of credit or insurance.” The site gives you two options. You can Opt-Out for five years or Opt-Out permanently. To rid yourself of these annoying offers, visit their website today or call them toll-free at 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688).
And to finish the job, take advantage of the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service. Once you register on this site, your name is automatically placed on a “delete” file that is recognized by around 3,600 organizations. In addition, they allow you to opt-out of a large number of email lists.
2) Fax Spam: An Unresolved Issue
“Fax Spam” is another annoying dilemma for millions of Americans. Unfortunately, we are virtually powerless in the chaotic world of facsimile. There is no such thing as a “Do Not Fax” list. The only way to opt-out is by contacting each individual company. While sending a few pieces of black or dark construction paper through the fax machine may seem like a just vindication for all of that paper and ink wasted on your end, keep in mind that this damages the environment more than the person on the other end.
If you want to really “stick it” to the “junk fax” industry, JunkFax.org can help you get even through the judicial process. Don’t expect any punitive damages; your reward will simply be the pleasure of knowing that justice has been served—for you and Mama Earth.
3) The Global Dilemma
Americans are not the only ones being bombarded with junk mail. Our friends across the pond have been coping with an increasing problem of mailbox stuffing. Each year, over 21 billion pieces of junk mail end up in British mail boxes—that’s over 550,000 tons of soon-to-be waste.
The Royal Mail actually accounts for around 25 percent of direct mail, and has used it to keep the price of stamps down to a minimum. Their unaddressed junk mail is a bit more difficult to eliminate, but you can always contact Royal Mail directly about it via their website—RoyalMail.com.
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Through these basic measures, you can finally reclaim your mailbox. While this mail reduction may make you feel temporarily “unpopular” (no one wants a vacant mailbox), your action will contribute to a greener world. This feat alone is bound to boost your self-esteem as you wait for love letters and other “extinct” forms of correspondence to appear in your box.
“They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong.” -President Ronald Reagan. Brendan Pringle is a regular contributor to Green Living Press.