Junk Mail and You

Tips From the SHU Green Light Club

Junk mail is not only a nuisance to those who receive it, it also has environmental consequences as well. Air, trees, water, wild life and their habitat are just a few of the things adversely affected in the process of creating a product that is disregarded and thrown away. Recycling it is good, but reducing it is better. Please share this information with your friends and family. We can make a difference. 


Why Reduce Junk Mail

  • 50% of all U.S. mail is discarded unopened
  • 62 million trees and 28 billion gallons of water were used to produce U.S. mail for just one year.
  • 114 billion pieces of bulk advertising mail were sent out in the U.S. in 2005 over (a 15% increase from 2000)
  • 55% of all paper fibers come from trees (17% of this is from old-growth forests)
  • 23 million acres of forest area was lost worldwide between 1990 and 2000
  • Loss of habitat is one of the main causes extinctions for both animals and plants. 

How to Reduce Personal Junk Mail

  • Contact the Direct Marketing Association to be removed from many companies' mass marketing mailing lists for up to five years. Learn how at www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailing.
  • Call the following companies directly to ask to be removed from their mailing lists: Val-Pak Coupons (1-800-676-6878), America Online Discs (1-800-827-6364), and Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes (1-800-645-9242).
  • Every loose-leaf bundle of business or supermarket fliers must be delivered along with an address postcard. Locate this address card - the cards usually have an advertisement and a photograph of a missing child (ADVO is the most common). Mail the address card to the address printed on the card and ask to be removed from their mailing list. Your letter carrier's routine is to give each house a bundle of fliers so, once you stop receiving the address card(s), tape a "No Bulk Mail" sign inside your mailbox. You can also opt-out online at www.advo.com/consumersupport.html.
  • To stop receiving unsolicited credit card and other credit related offers, gather your current address, other addresses from the last two years, and social security number(s). Call the credit reporting industry's toll-free number, 1-888-567-8688 (24 hours a day). Make a separate phone call for each social security number. Listen to all options before making your selection (the last option mentioned lets you remove your name from the list permanently). A letter will be mailed asking you to confirm your request.
  • Your credit card company probably sells your name the most often. Call and ask them to stop. Also make the same request of your bank and any other companies from which you purchase products or services on a regular basis (for example, companies who sell you magazines, phone service, and gas & electric services).
  • Create a place to store all unwanted mail. Once a month, call the local or toll-free numbers on the mailings and ask to be removed from their mailing lists (toll-free area codes are 800, 888, 877, or 866). This is the most effective way to get off mailing lists. If there isn't a local or toll-free number but there is a postage-paid return envelope, tear off the mailing label and enclose it in the envelope along with a request to be removed from their mailing list. Mark envelope "ATTN: Customer Service". Another option: write "refused" or "refused: return to sender" across the address, cross out the bar code, and drop in any mailbox. If it is 'First Class' mail, it will be returned to the sender. If it is 'Presorted Standard' (third class) mail, there is an 80% chance that you will be taken off the senders mailing list. Recycle all leftover unwanted mail (remember to rip credit offers in half first).
  • Product warranty cards are often used to collect information on your habits and income, for the sole purpose of targeting direct mail. They are not required in most situations - avoid sending them.
  • Avoid filling out "Contest" cards – these are almost always fishing expeditions for names.
  • Whenever you donate money or order a product or service, write in large letters: "Please do not sell my name or address". Most organizations will properly mark your name in their computer.
  • If you would like help with reducing your junk mail, check out organizations like 41pounds.org.











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Accounting, Business Administration Graduate; Director of Credit at Heidtman Steel Products