Monday, July 13, 2009

Junk Mail, Catalogs and Phone Books ... Oh My!

Last year, in an effort to reduce the amount of paper in the world, I started a campaign to eliminate junk mail and catalogs from my mailbox and discontinue the delivery of phone books to my home. While I did enjoy, to some extent, browsing through those advertisements ... and while the phone books actually worked great as door stops ... I really didn't need them. And I got to thinking ... if everyone was receiving the quantity that I was receiving ... and eventually sending it all to the landfill ... well, that's a lot of trees being cut down (for nothing) and a lot of waste. So ... it had to end.

Initially it took a little effort ... even when I signed up for a "do not mail" or "opt out" service, I still got stuff ... unwanted stuff. So, when the stuff appeared, I found out who was sending it, called them, and politely asked them to stop sending it to me. Usually people were glad to do it ... and when they were hesitant, I explained that I would be happy to receive emails from them but didn't want to waste paper and hurt the environment (they were more agreeable to my request when they learned it wasn't anything "personal" and when I gave them an alternate way to "stay connected"). If you'd like to read about my initial efforts, you can do so here:

Junk Mail
Phone Books

Today, about a year later, my mailbox is free of clutter and my doorstep hasn't been graced with a stack of phone books in months. Yay! More importantly, paper has been reduced, trees have been saved and the landfill hasn't been filled with paper from my house. Imagine if every home in America ... or the world ... could say the same. Wow!

Here are some proven methods for eliminating junk mail, catalogs and phone books:

  • These are the people who send out advertising. Their philosophy is that it is expensive to send fliers, mail, etc. to people who aren't interested so they can save money by not wasting their efforts.
  • Catalog Choice. I really like this site. When a catalog arrives, I log into this site, search for the catalog and opt out of receiving it. That's it ... real easy. As with the direct mail advertisers, many companies don't want to spend money sending out catalogs to people who don't want them. So Catalog Choice works with companies to easily offer an opt-out service. If a catalog or particular company isn't listed on their site, one can request that a catalog be included and the administrators of the site will contact the company and work with them to offer this service. Brilliant!
  • Opt Out Prescreen. Did you know: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists used by creditors or insurers to make firm offers of credit or insurance that are not initiated by you. That's why mailboxes fill up with those pesky "You are Pre-Approved" offers and why every insurance company in the world seems to think that you need their coverage. This site allows you to opt out of those kinds of offers.
  • Yellow Page Goes Green. The purpose of this site is to get your name and mailing address off the delivery list. This is the site that I've had the least success with ... many phone books are just bundled up and dropped at the door. Also, there are a bunch of companies who print and deliver "phone books" in my area ... and not all of them are covered by this site. By all means, sign up on this site ... it will eliminate some books. Beyond that, whenever a book is delivered, check it for the providers name and phone number and then call them ... they'll take you off the list. Calling has worked the best for me ... I no longer get phone books.
Here's a little bonus ... while the next site doesn't save a lot of paper, it does reduce the stress of having to deal with telemarketers:
  • National Do Not Call Registry. When you sign up on this site, you'll be amazed at how many telemarketer calls will be eliminated. If one should get through, ask them to place your number on the "Do Not Call" list ... which, by the way, is different from asking them to take you off their call list (which won't accomplish anything).
So ... visit a few sites, make a few calls ... eliminate paper waste. It's a good thing!

As always, I would love to hear from you!