A major contributor to paper waste in the home and small business environment is unsolicited mail. Whether you recycle that paper, and especially if you do not, it is best for the environment to reduce or eliminate unsolicited mail. Stopping these items directly reduces the amount of raw materials and resources used to produce and transport them. Even with the advent of electronic communication, the average American adult receives approximately 40 pounds of unsolicited mail per month. That's almost five million pounds of paper in Fort Lauderdale alone!
Opting out is easy!
You can significantly reduce the amount of unwanted mail you receive. A simple phone call or online form allows you to opt out of receiving unsolicited items, such as pre-screened credit offers, insurance flyers, circulars, catalogs and more. Here are five ways you can start. Note that you will likely need to take more than one approach in order to stop all unwanted mail. We do not endorse any particular service over another, and encourage you to visit them all for more information.
The Federal Trade Commission offers detailed instructions for opting out of unsolicited mail, as well as phone calls and email. Information on what to do if you are a victim of fraud is also available.
Call toll-free 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com. This phone number and website are operated by the major consumer reporting companies.
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) provides information for reducing the amount of unsolicited general marketing material you received, such as catalogs. The DMA's Mail Preference Service (MPS) lets you opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies for five years. When you register with this service, your name will be put on a "delete" file and made available to direct-mail marketers and organizations. This will reduce most of your unsolicited mail. However, your registration will not stop mailings from organizations that do not use the DMA's Mail Preference Service. To register with DMA's Mail Preference Service, go to www.dmachoice.org, or mail your request with a $1 processing fee to: DMAchoice, Direct Marketing Association, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512.
To target catalogs specifically, you can use Catalog Choice. This is a free service to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more.
Reputation.com offers PaperKarma®, an app to help you control what mailers you receive. Once you donwload the free version, you can snap a picture of unwanted mail and submit it for follow up. The company contacts the mailer and has your address removed from their database. Some fees may apply for upgraded versions.
There are also a number of organizations which, for a fee, will take care of the entire opt out process for you. Some will use a part of your fee to donate to green charities. Type "reducing junk mail" into your Internet search engine.