Enviornmental columnist gives some easy tips on how to stop junk mail.
The environmental theme, “reduce, reuse, recycle” is right on the mark, and I am only now beginning to appreciate the significance of this powerful slogan.
The first concept, reduce, is something to which I never gave much thought.
Until last week, I was pretty proud of myself for recycling all the junk mail and catalogues that come in the mail. Then I started thinking about all the trees destroyed and chemicals used just to print this stuff that I don’t even want in the first place. Not to mention my time wasted sorting through my mail and carrying heavy bins out to the curb on recycling days. So why not take action to reduce this amount of pollution and waste in the first place?
Some new friends I made who are involved in the Hamilton and Wenham Recycling Committees sent me an e-mail about a good way to stop unwanted catalogues from being sent to my house.
I didn’t act on it then, but it triggered me to remember some research I had done on celebrities going green. I learned that Matt Damon supports an organization, GreenDimes, that stops unwanted junk mail and plants trees. In an interview on Oprah’s TV show, Damon shared his excitement with the audience about a gift he received from a friend for a GreenDimes membership to stop his unsolicited junk mail.
While exploring the Internet recently, I discovered that one of the top recommendations from the book, “50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save The Earth,”is to stop unwanted junk mail.
This encouraged me to finally take action to reduce my own junk mail and to share the information with readers.
Here are some staggering statistics: According to www.greendimes.com: 100 million trees are ground up each year for unsolicited mail. Junk mail wastes 28 billion gallons of water for paper processing each year. In all, 4.5 million tons of junk mail are produced each year. And $320 million in local taxes are used to dispose of unsolicited mail each year. The average person receives only 1.5 personal letters each week compared to 10.8 pieces of junk mail. People throw away 44 percent of all junk mail, unopened and unread.
According to www.catalogchoice.org: More than 19 billion paper catalogues are produced and discarded each year. Eight million tons of trees are used to produce the catalogues. Nearly half of the planet’s original forest cover is gone. Deforestation contributes between 20 percent and 25 percent of all carbon pollution, causing global climate change. The manufacturing, distribution, collection and disposal of catalogues generates greenhouse gases as well as air and water pollution.
“Pollution-prevention means reducing the total amount of pollution generated at the source, and as a second preference, environmentally sound recycling. There are many ways to prevent pollution at home and reducing the amount of junk mail you receive is just one,” states the radical Environmental Protection Agency on its Web site: www.eps.state.oh.us.
So how does one best go about stopping unwanted catalogs and unsolicited junk mail? If you are willing to invest 20 minutes of your time and spend from $0 up to $15, these three organizations I recommend will help clear the junk from your mailbox for the next two to five years.
1. Stop up to 75 percent of junk mail: The Direct Marketing Association has a mail preference service you can sign up for and have your name removed from many mailing lists. There are two ways to register.
- The easiest way is to register online at www.dmaconsumers.org and click on “Remove My Name from those Lists.” There is a $1 fee, payable by credit card, which verifies your registration and helps to protect the system from fraud.
- You can also send a postcard or letter to Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 282, Carmel, NY, 10512. Include your name, address, zip code, and write “please activate the mail preference service” followed by your signature. A small fee of $1 per person is charged and checks are payable to DMA. One letter or postcard is required per street address and you should list the name and address of each household resident on your letter.
Once registered, within 30 to 90 days you will notice a tremendous reduction in the amount of unsolicited mail you receive, but not all commercial mail will stop.
You will continue to receive mail from companies with which you already do business as well as mail from local merchants. Not all companies use the Mail Preference Service to purge their mailing lists so contact these companies directly and ask to be placed on the company’s do-not-mail file. You should be aware that signing up with MPS may prevent you from receiving some unsolicited mail, which you may want such as new catalogues, coupons and notices of special offers.
2. Free service for the removal of unwanted catalogues from your mailbox: Catalog Choice is a project of the Ecology Center of Berkeley, Calif. and you can join for free at www.catalogchoice.org. So far 216,275 people have joined and have opted out of 2,406,588 catalogues.
3. Have trees planted and get rid of junk mail for yourself and as a gift for your friends and family: Become a member of GreenDimes at www.greendimes.com. This organization has one tree per month planted for each member, stops unwanted catalogues and monitors your name on mailing lists.
You still need to register your name with the Mail Preference Service through a link on the GreenDimes Web site, but they will then carefully monitor your name on various mailing lists. For $15 per person, you can join this organization or give a membership as a gift.
Recent coverage of GreenDimes in The New York Times and Business Week and on CNN have helped increase awareness. In just over a year, the efforts of the GreenDimes organization and its members have stopped more than two million pounds of junk mail, saved seven million gallons of water, and planted over 325,000 trees.
If you are looking for a way to have an immediate positive effect on our environment by reducing greenhouse gases and saving trees, which filter water, remove air pollution, sequester carbon, and provide homes for wildlife, then act now to stop your unsolicited mail.
Lisa Lillelund, a resident of Beverly, writes a regular column in the Beverly Citizen. She welcomes your comments at email@example.com.