Weekly Challenge

Week 3: Tackle Junk Mail

Now that we have walked you through conducting a trash audit and calculating your eco footprint, let’s focus on some simple ways to get started on following the 5Rs. Our third challenge discusses the never ending mounds of junk mail that arrive in your mailbox every day. 

How to Refuse

Although the United States Postal Service (USPS) is required to deliver mail as addressed, the mail in your box does not have to be accepted. The USPS provides the following guidance for handling unwanted mail after it lands in your mailbox*:

*Note: Response mail to a sales promotion, solicitation, announcement, or other advertisement that was not refused when offered to the recipient cannot be refused or returned.

41 pounds
of unwanted mail

Roughly 41 pounds of unwanted mail are sent to each adult in every US household each year, and 44% of this mail is sent to our landfills unopened.
Washington Post

100 million

If the 100 million trees cut down each year for bulk mailing were left standing, they would absorb 1.7 million tons of CO2 a year. 
Sierra Club

How to Reduce

Paperless Billing and Statments

This is perhaps the most obvious way to reduce the number of items arriving in your mailbox. You can directly contact companies you have business relationships with to request paperless billing and statements. Oftentimes they have an empty box on paper statements that, when checked, automatically sign you up for e-bills. If this is not the case, you can look at the company’s website or contact them directly to see if the service is available.

 Opt Out Prescreen

This opt-out service is free and stops pre-screened credit card and insurance offers.

DMA Choice

There is a $2 registration fee, but it allows you to stop general marketing and advertising mailings for 10 years.

Catalog Choice

This free alternative to DMAchoice allows you to unsubscribe from catalogs one at a time. 

Still Receiving Unwanted Mail?

If unwanted mail is still arriving after you have followed the above steps, look for contact information near the bottom of the mailing, on the mailing label, or on the company’s website to directly request removal from the marketing list.

With just a bit of effort, you are now one step further on your journey to low-impact living. Now take a minute to share this challenge with a friend or neighbor, and don’t forget to #shareyourshift!