Eliminating Waste In Your Mailbox

I'm a big fan of getting fun things in the mail, but more often than not, our daily mail consists of junk mail only. It's such a waste to open the mailbox and find a stack of papers that are going to go straight into the recycling bin.

We also have a tendency to let the junk mail stack up, but I do get some enjoyment out of going through through the stack and sorting the recyclables from the trash, and seeing a clear mail table in the living room.

As a general rule, I always rip off our names and address, and shred any credit card applications, instead of throwing all of that intact into the recycling bin. Any overly waxy envelopes also go into the trash (thank you, credit card companies, for using non-recyclable paper!)

But, it's still frustrating to see stacks of paper get thrown out or tossed into the recycling bin, when it's unwanted mail in the first place. Isn't it better to stop it from being printed and mailed in the first place?
Yes, yes it is! And it takes a little leg work on your end, but you do have the power to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive.

Inspired by my friend Liv's quest to live a waste-free life, I recently took the time to cut down on my own household's level of junk mail using the links below, and I can't wait to start seeing the results.

If you're like me, the worst junk mail offender is credit card applications and offers. There is one website, known as Opt Out Prescreen, that will remove you from the mailing list database for unsolicited credit card offers. (I believe there's also an 800 number you can call to get on the Opt Out list.)

One afternoon recently, as I was going through our junk mail, I noticed one of the credit card offers had small print on the bottom with a referral to Opt Out Prescreen, so it is a legitimate source. Choose to opt out for five years or permanently.

To opt out of general unsolicited marketing mail, visit DMA Choice.

To opt out of all Yellow Page books in your local area, visit Yellow Pages Opt Out. There is nothing more frustrating than when we receive a Yellow Pages on our door step, and it takes about 3 seconds before it's in our recycling bin. The last time I used a Yellow Pages was probably when I was 12, and even then, what did I really need it for? Stop the delivery in the first place by opting out online.

I had opted out of Yellow Pages in one of my apartments many years ago, and it did actually work, although I would end up forgetting the next couple of times I moved.

And my least favorite junk mail of all, the RedPlum pack of sales papers. They do offer an opt out page on their website, with the warning that it takes 5-6 weeks for the request to be effective (as they do print in advance.) This was another service I opted out of in my apartment, but had not gotten around to at our house. I recently added our address to the opt out list, and am curious to see if we continue to receive the mailer after the time passes.

The problem I have noticed with our RedPlum deliveries is that most weeks, the one we receive does not have our address on it; rather, it's the address of a neighbor. If I notice the deliveries continue, it may be a point of leaving a note for our postmaster that we have opted out and should not be receiving a copy. (Knowing that most likely it means an extra copy will get thrown in the trash by someone else.)

Beyond the unsolicited mail, you can also eliminate paper mail for bills and statements. I've elected paperless mail for all of the bills I'm responsible for, and instead, I receive email notifications.

In addition, you can tell companies how you prefer your marketing mail to be delivered - snail mail or email. I've set my AT&T and Cox Communications preferences to be email only (or even not at all) in order to cut down on the ridiculous amount of mail they send what feels like weekly. Since we're already customers, it's completely useless to send so much direct mail, so I put a stop to it.

Visit the websites for all of the companies you're a customer with, log in, and look in your account settings. There should always be an option for bill delivery preferences and marketing preferences.

In the end, we might have an empty mailbox more often than not, but I'd rather have an empty mailbox and save trees, than always have something inside that goes straight into the trash or recycling bin.

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