The Green Mailbox

How stuffed is yours?

When considering ways to make a difference and help the environment, have you ever once considered your mailbox as an asset or weapon? Really? Let’s put it to the test in this week’s MAD post.

The last time you went to the mailbox, how many things in it were actually for you? No, I know they all had your address on them, but how many were really for you? If you are average, like all the rest of us schlepping to the mailbox, you get an average of 1.5 personal letters a week. Yes, a total of 78 letters per year. Why is that?

The Internet

You learned about 12 minutes after you got on the Internet that e-communication was good for the environment, your checkbook and your waste paper basket. You signed up for e-statements and e-bills and e-banking. Didn’t you? Write yourself a note, and do it when you finish reading this.

Still, you go to the mailbox, and it is chock-a-block full. So, what is all the rest of that…stuff…you are bringing in the house?

Filler Paper

Now, if you really have no fitness plan, I suppose you could consider bringing in 2.5 pounds of mail everyday exercise. If this applies to you, inbox me for some alternative no-workout-workout ideas. How about some statistics for all of the non-math wizards?

Why is the Postal Service broke?

Not for bulk mail...

The bulk of postage profits come from first class mail. Less than 50% of the deliveries made by the USPS are first class mail. You get less than two first class pieces of mail, but you get 11 pieces of junk mail. The junk is delivered at a cut throat rate because there is so stinking much of it. It is volume discounting gone horridly awry.

Time you never get back…

Because you are shrewd and know most of what is delivered to your mailbox is garbage, you will not open 44% of it. You will, however, spend eight months of your life opening the other 56%. What would you do with another eight months?

That’s a lot of expensive garbage.

Junk Mail Trash

Since only 2% of junk mail actually gets a response, you have to wonder why companies still send it. This year, 5.6 million tons of catalogs and direct mailers will make their way to landfills. More than $350 million is spent every year disposing of junk mail which has not been recycled. In 2010, 48% of landfill waste was paper.

That is a lot of trees.

Trees in your mailbox.

In order to print all that trash, 100 million trees need to be harvested each year. Hard to fathom? Think of it like this… To get that many trees you would need to completely deforest the Rocky Mountain National Park three times per year.

You can make a GREEN difference.

Even if you only choose one of the following four offers, you can make a difference.

Unfortunately, is defunct from lack of participation.

Opt Out

The Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service allows you to be removed from direct mail marketing lists which are sold and resold to companies to send you junk mail. If you want more mail, you can subscribe to lists which are only sold to companies marketing what you are into, but it is far easier to get the catalog from the Internet and save the trees, gasoline and mail carrier’s back.


Where did they get your address in the first place? You gave it to them. Oh, yes, you did.

  • Remember that card you filled out for the warranty for your new coffee maker?
  • How about the donation card at your favorite charity?
  • Subscribe to a magazine lately (and if you did, I will fuss at you in another post)?
  • Buy something from a mail order house (even on the Internet)?
  • Fill out an application for a buyer’s card at the grocery or the electronics shop?
  • Did you check the box which says Share your info with our affiliates?

All of those places sell or “rent” your address to direct marketers. Marketers approach any organization which collects physical addresses to ensure the places they mail have residents. Even organizations with privacy policies which do not divulge your name will sell your “non-personally identifying” address, which changes your name to Occupant.

Write on all of those papers and order forms: Do not sell or rent my address.

Press 1. Press 3. Press 7. Press 2.

Phone It In

Call the customer service number on the junk mail. Press the numbers until you get to someone with a pulse (or the voice recording extension) and ask them to remove your name and address. Just for kicks, inform them the call may be recorded for quality assurance.

Keep The Credit

Contact the credit bureaus. They sell the addresses of consumers. The going logic is if you have been reported to the bureau, you had to have consumed something. Since they are firm in their belief every piece of information they own is correct, your address they have on file is correct.

Also, if you have been reported, chances are good you will default on the items you purchase as a result of their sale of your address, which in turn means you will buy more credit reports.

When you write to them (most do not offer or honor telephone requests), specifically demand to have your information removed from pre-screened credit offers. This will be better for your credit rating in the long run. You really do not need another credit card.

Aggressive Consumerism

No Shopping.

You can cut overhead of companies who still use direct mail to get customers, which can lead to lower prices. For the companies who do not lower prices, shop elsewhere. Have you considered boycotting the stores which mail you a unsolicited catalog? Have you ever told someone else not to buy from a predatory catalog company? Hit them where it hurts…in the bottom line.

Think About It

You get more than 550 pieces of junk mail a year. What about your roommate or Mate? Got mail for your children or the dog? By reducing the amount of junk mail (physical spam) sent to you, you are:

  • Reducing governmental waste
  • Reducing landfill garbage waste
  • Reducing litter
  • Decreasing pollution
  • Saving gasoline
  • Saving trees
  • Saving time

Whatever may slip through the cracks, recycle. So, get MAD. You can Make A Difference.


Do you know of another agency to stop junk mail (outside US is fine)? Name your favorite ways to recycle magazines and catalogs.


(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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  1. Mailing lists are even sold by organizations that should know better.
    I like when they get upset that I got upset. Thanks. Consider your renewal notices now part of the tossed junk pile.

    • Those are nearly as annoying as the unsolicited ones. I love getting a magazine for TWO years and then a notice for a bill…past due. I am so polite on the card, too… ;;)

      “Dear marketing genius, Until you can produce my signature requesting either your service or product, please do not pollute my mailbox with delusional demands for money. Thank you for refraining from further contact. XXX”

  2. I share a mail box with two other people. We still get lots of junk mail among us. I think the companies consider it advertising, even if they get to shove it down your throat.

    We do recycle paper at a charity’s paper box, for which the charity gets paid per ton

    • Which one? If it is a national thing, more people can get in on it, and I will post it in the future.

  3. We have a junk mail redirection service. Me… I redirect it from the mailbox to our recycling bin.
    I never thought of calling them & saying not to send anything. Good idea.

  4. very inspiring.

    • Glad you liked it. There is plenty more where that originated. Have a look around at the things in the Green Means Green category or the Environment tag.

      Stop by the Green Room and leave a link to your blog. I am sure there are a few here who would love to see what the seal looks like now.


  5. The only magazine subscription I’ve got is for the kid’s High Five which recently turned into Highlights. When she’s done with them, (the ones still in tact) can be donated to the therapist office for the kids there to read.
    Laurie recently posted..Changes in Hope of SimplicityMy Profile

    • We love High Five and Highlights. Puzzle Buzz (also a Highlights production) is another all aces winner in our house. None of them survive to be handed down. PB is finished as soon as I give it to her. She will sit all day and finish one from cover to cover. So much for the ignorance of the school saying she could not possibly stay on task. Meh.

      • I wonder if Puzzle Buzz would help the kid stay on track. Right now she’s running my camera battery dead again, she discovered her inner photographer. We have tons of close ups of her fingers where she forgot to move them out of the way now.
        Laurie recently posted..Changes in Hope of SimplicityMy Profile

        • Probably. Depending on her speed, it could take her a couple hours to all day to finish one. The skills are wide ranging. I bought the little ones a camera of their own bc I need my tele battery (for every stinking thing else) and I did not want them using the real camera. We have a folder of all sorts of OCD lined-up objects and such.

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