The Green Mailbox

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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, unjunkmail.com 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.

Refuse

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.

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

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(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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46 Comments

  1. Good post Red. You’d be surprised to know that there are still people out there who don’t even do the basics – recycling their household products instead of putting them in the garbage. Our recycling bin in even more full than our garbage bin when collection times roll around and I think that if it isn’t, then there might be a problem.

    I also think too many people are “me” oriented. Why bother saving the planet when I’m not even going to be around to see the benefits (or fallout?). We won’t be here, but our children and their children and their children will.

    Reply
    • Truthfully, Wendy, I would not. I see it all of the time where I live, especially. I have spent my entire life being a conservationist, so those people make my eye twitch. If you get time, check out some of the other recycling posts. You may be shocked at some of the statistics. I use recycling as a consumer weapon.
      Red.

      Reply
  2. Great info. I stumbled you (just so you know).

    Reply
  3. Red, when I get mad enough, I put the junk mail in a plain free window envelope or a used brown envelope and send the junk mail right back to where it came from, without postage. They have to pay the postage. They get it just in time to take advantage of ALL 18 GAZILLION wonderful offers. Everyone should do that. “:)

    Reply
    • When I mail something back in a return envelope (which is not often, as I live in the virtual world), I put all of the leaflets into the return envelope. A.L.L. of it. They pay by the return weight of the envelope, so if they wish to regale me with offers, I politely return all those which do not apply to me 😉

      Reply
  4. I take old books and magazines to a local organization for their waiting room and “free stuff” box. The people don’t have much money in general so they enjoy the reads. Spread the love of literacy! I hope this post inspires people to think twice when they go to their mailbox next.

    Reply
    • Me, too. I would be remiss not to admit I really despise the waste of the magazine industry. When I found out how many copies are printed solely to garner economy printing, I was astounded. All of the extra magazines are not recycled because of the way they are distributed. Shameful.

      Reply
  5. We have the same problem in the UK with cold callers who phone almost every day with the intent to add me to their spambots, in fact I had a call only this morning trying to sell me the service of a claims company I don’t need for a job that is done for free by the Banks should they have mis-sold PPI protection insurance.

    Naturally this wasn’t a British call centre, but originated in Mumbai…

    I have taken to blocking the call numbers, but they DO keep trying…

    Once they have your name and address they never let go and your phone becomes yet another Spam source as they phone repeatedly in an effort to sell you or their services.

    The end result is an endless supply of Spam mail, phone calls and, if you give it to them, emails…

    Love and hugs!

    Prenin.

    Reply
    • The entire world is sending their call center business to Mumbai. Is there a central agency for Britain to reduce calls and mail? I know there is one for Australia.
      {HUGZ}
      Red.

      Reply
      • It only works for businesses in the UK – Mumbai is another of those ‘off the radar’ places who do not advertise their personal information, just yours…

        Love and hugs!!!

        Prenin.

        Reply
        • It does stop them from being able to purchase a lot of your information when you register with your national agency. The muddiness comes in when you buy from a country which does not regulate the flow of personal information…especially to India.
          {HUGZ}
          Red.

          Reply
  6. I do seem to get a ton of junk mail
    (also trying to remember to lift with my legs and not my back…)
    🙂

    Reply
    • My mail carrier is so sweet. When she pulls up to the door (because the letter box cannot take another piece) she offers the mandatory crud to me and takes it back when I politely (boy, is that a lie) decline. 😉

      Reply
  7. authormjlogan

     /  February 23, 2012

    No one hates junk mail more than I do. The only thing I will miss is the weekly supermarket flyers, which come in a packet with ton’s of others.

    Reply
    • Those do not qualify for opt out. That class of mail is for the entire zip code. You will still receive them.

      Useless fact #6,423

      Reply
  8. I get tons of stuff on a regular basis. Since we’re in an apartment and the complex won’t pay for recycling (I don’t think the city will pick up at large apartment complexes; they don’t pick up the trash,) we shred a lot of stuff. I can use the paper we shred when shipping packages, but believe it or not, a lot of it can go into a compost heap. This shiny catalogs can’t, but all the paper stuff can. For those magazines or other JUNK that comes in plastic bags, you can save those plastic bags to take to the grocery store. Most supermarkets keep a garbage can like receptacle either right inside the door, or right outside. All those plastic bags, and the plastic grocery bags you don’t use (and any other type of plastic baggy, can go into that recycling heap.

    And if you really want to be thrifty, create a lasagna garden with layers of paper, cardboard, food scraps, leaves, grass and so on….It takes a while for the pile to decompose, but you have an awesome no dig organic garden made from all the stuff you saved from the city dump, landfill and garbage disposal!

    I know…I’m weird like that, but heck, I even plant pits from fruit and vegetables and the tops of pineapples….One man’s trash is another man’s treasure as the saying goes!

    Reply
    • I use paper shreds to pack fragile ornaments after the holidays. I no longer ship merchandise, but do occasionally pack a box for my wayward children, which gets shreds for comfort.

      I use the newspaper/leaves/grass method in the garden for soil moisture and weed barrier. It all gets tilled under the following year…to be covered in more newspaper/leaves/grass. Makes for more nutrient rich soil.

      Thanks for stopping by, Susan.
      Red.

      Reply
  9. As always, you have added a vast amount of useful information here and for all those that do not recycle then it is about time that you did… A great offering Red and thank you for all of your fine thoughts on my Space, where you are always welcome, and yes help yourself to a piece of that Chocolate Cake 🙂 😉

    Have a wonderful evening 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

    Reply
    • I believe chocolate cake should be an entree!

      Off to see what naughtiness you have conjured for this evening 😉
      Red.

      Reply
      • Yes well it could be any part of the meal really but certainly one that is enjoyed, especially when the artist has no brush, to speak of I mean 🙂 😉 lol

        Androgoth XXx

        Reply
  10. My favorite way to recycle junk mail is to give it to my kids. Now, I know that is not the greenest option, but it is cheap entertainment. I wrote about this a while back. I would post the link, but I don’t want to be presumptuous. It is titled “Yes, there is Junk Mail”

    Reply
    • Pshaw. Post the link.

      I do the same thing. Little Bear loves the shiny ads from the mailbox (which are unstoppable). Another great solution is to give them to the preschool and nursery for the church/mosque/synagogue. They use the pictures in craft projects.
      Red.

      Reply
      • We do get all kinds of catalogs, sometimes multiples. I have to recycle them or we would look like a bunch of hoarders. The link for that post is http://wp.me/p1XHf9-6l

        Reply
        • Thank you, Derek! The ones which disturb me the most are the ones which come addressed to my pen name. Since I only have one social media in that name, it is obvious who sold the address 😉

          Reply
      • By the way, the other thought was that we probably don’t need mail service all that often. There are very few things I actually get in the mail. I would take electronic mail over paper almost in every instance.

        Reply
        • I only go to the mailbox once per week. I could care less if it comes more often than that 😉 I am considering going back to the post office for a box, but the thought of opening a box with a key to a locker for all of the assorted baloney makes me shudder.

          Reply

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