Okay, dear reader, it’s time for an honest check-in: How many sustainable swaps have you successfully maintained since Earth Day?
If your well-intentioned plan to whittle down on waste hasn’t panned out the way you thought, you’re certainly not alone. I wrote an entire article on how we can eat more sustainably to reduce our carbon footprint, but I still haven’t cut down on meat consumption or attempted to compost my food scraps.
As I reflect on my grandiose yet failed eco-vision, I remind myself not to self-flagellate too harshly. Maybe I’ve fallen short when it comes to changing my eating habits, but I have adopted other planet-protective practices that may be just as impactful.
Case in point: I make a conscious effort to take shorter showers because I know how much water that saves. I faithfully recycle all plastics, glass, and cardboard. And I eagerly switch to paperless billing whenever that’s a viable option, leading to far less buildup of bulky envelopes that I’d only end up ignoring anyway (I’m looking at you, naggy IRS).
Power of trees!
— GO PAPERLESS 🌍💚 (@gopaperless2) February 20, 2020
Despite these eco-friendly lifehacks, some carbon-churning practices remain largely out of my control. As much as I strive to keep my mailbox free of paper-wasting parcel, at least once a week I’ll find a heaping pile of junk mail — unwanted catalogs, HelloFresh promos, and credit card offers I’d never be approved for — that I can’t do a damned thing to stop.
Or so I thought.
On one serendipitous morning, I bumped into my mailman as he slid a rolled-up circular into my narrow door slot. Sighing deeply and dramatically, I grinned at him and joked, “If only we could opt out of all this junk mail, am I right?”
Instead of chuckling in agreement, my mailman stared at me and uttered two short words that would completely change my world: “You. Can.”
As it turns out, dear reader, we don’t have to fall victim to a veritable deluge of postmarked spam. Just as there are verified tricks to unsubscribe from unwanted email, there are steps we can take to rid our already-cluttered mailboxes of tireless physical junk.
Want to know the secrets — and do your own part to help save the trees? Here, I pay my mailman’s favor forward and share the best tips to stop junk mail from ever reaching your door.
Unsubscribe From Catalogs
You know what I’m talking about — those colorful, perfume-scented catalogs that ceaselessly clog up your mailbox, especially around the holidays. Overstuffed like a swollen turkey on Thanksgiving day, these circulars almost never contain deals worth splurging on, unless you’re the ultimate coupon-clipping queen in search of the next cheap thrill.
Besides adding clutter to your doorway, such junk mail contributes greatly to carbon emissions through global deforestation. More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce these pesky pamphlets.
Something I learned today:
100 Million Trees are used each year for junk mail.
42% of junk mail is never opened.
Which means 42 million trees are processed almost directly into landfill each year… not to mention the carbon used to deliver them to our houses and then the dump.
— alexlindsay (@alexlindsay) April 11, 2020
Fortunately, there are a few ways to opt out of these catalogs:
Register with Catalog Choice, a free service that will contact individual catalogs on your behalf to remove you from their mailing lists.
Sign up for DMAChoice.org, a tool offered by the Data & Marketing Association to remove your name from national mailing lists. A one-time $2 processing fee is required to keep your name on the “remove” list for 10 years.
Unsubscribe From Credit Card And Insurance Offers
It’s a familiar ploy — the thick envelope in your doorway promises there’s a pre-approved credit card inside. You tear open the envelope and feel your heart racing as you contemplate your next $1,000 splurge.
Psyche! The credit card inside is a cardboard fake, and when you submit the application online, the rest is history — now your name and address are out there, up for sale to the highest-bidding vultures in the credit industry.
Marvel of modern day junk mail: a credit card offer addressed to…
…my parents’ dog. 🤦🏻♀️ pic.twitter.com/qjPgvzu7AG
— Ann Sellers (@vocabswag) January 7, 2019
The good news is that you can easily unsubscribe from these gratuitous prescreened offers. To opt out, simply visit optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688). You have the choice to opt out of these mailing lists either for five years or permanently.
Contact Individual Marketers Directly
If you’ve followed the steps above but still find yourself sifting through a cluttered mailbox, don’t fret just yet — it may take weeks or even months to stop the marketing madness, as these materials are often prepared well in advance.
And while these options are effective at stopping the majority of useless junk mail, dear reader beware: they’re not entirely foolproof. If you’ve engaged with specific local businesses, donated to specific charities, or otherwise signed up for consumer mailing lists inadvertently, you’ll still have to confront the occasional junk.
In these cases, unfortunately, you’ll have to contact individual retailers directly to opt out of their mailing lists. To do so, look for the small-print “unsubscribe” information on the bottom or back of the marketing material, or call the company’s customer service line and request your removal from its database.
Declutter your mailbox; declutter your life — and protect our precious planet in the process.
Is your mailbox cluttered with junk mail? Have you successfully opted out of marketer mailing lists? Tell us what has worked in the comments!
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