Zero Waste Step #4: Stop Junk Mail
This post is part of my “5 Steps to Zero Waste You Can Start NOW” series.
Reducing mail is like losing weight. It takes forever. You don’t see results for weeks. And once the weight is off, it takes work to keep it that way. But, it is a whole lot easier than giving up sugar carbs.
There are two steps to mail reduction, one is proactive and the other reactive.
Proactive: Get in the mindset of “an empty mailbox is a happy mailbox” and do these things ahead of time.
- Reconsider your magazine subscriptions or newspapers.
- Go paperless on your bills.
- Don’t sign up for stuff in stores.
- When you do sign up for something, find the “Opt-out” option on their form. Look for it like you did the last box of Twinkies at Target.* Ask, if you can’t find it.
- Register at dmachoice.org and catalogchoice.org. I will say – I’m not a fan of these. After registering and coming up with (yet another) password, you are required to search for every company that sends you mail. I’d rather wait for the catalog to come in the mail and be…
Reactive: For some reason, it seems most efforts in my life are on the reactive end of the spectrum. But in this case, I prefer it. When I get a piece of unsolicited mail I set it aside in a red folder and usually when the littlest is napping, I grab my phone and go all Kalifornia on solicitors. Well, at least I try to cut down their mailing lists by one. Like keeping weight off until the reunion, diligence is required.
- Some make it easy. “If you’d prefer not to receive I Love Cats Weekly call…”
- Some try to hide their phone number in small, grey print.
- Some make you go online to find a phone number buried in “Contact Us.”
- Some only let you do it by email.
- And some, like one of our local Valvoline outfits, make you come in personally.
Oh, and when you get a credit card application, look on the bottom for this number and call it immediately: 1-888-5-OPT-OUT. It’s legit and works. You can also go here and opt out for longer (for…ever?). This requires you to print and mail in (hmmm…) a form.
For companies with whom you already have a business relationship (think airlines and credit card companies trying to sell you MORE credit cards), you need to CALL or email CHAT these guys and ask to be removed from their solicitation list.**
It’s mostly easy, mindless work you can do while making those protein smoothies you’re a little sick of.
Zero mail, save for a few Donut Mart coupons? Definitely Zero Waste win.
*Hostess, the brand that makes Twinkies, filed for Chapter 11 in 2012, leading to run on Hostess products until they reappeared on shelves the next year.
**I just did this with my own credit card companies and I’m here to report that AMEX made it easy and did it over chat. Bank of America however, made me wade (no, not wade, leg-only tread) through the customer service labyrinth until they finally picked up with a mashing of ZEROs. 23:28 later, after being forwarded to “Privacy Opt Out,” selecting “all marketing,” and answering questions they should have known the answers to (“Do you have a credit card with Bank of America?” “um…really?!”), I was purportedly removed from the mailing list.