The U.S. Postal Service delivers more than 90 billion pieces of "direct mail" every year, much of it considered unwanted by those receiving it. Reducing unwanted mail helps conserve natural resources and decrease reliance on landfills and incineration.
How much "junk mail" is there? Let's do the math:
- Shipped: 5.57 million tons
- Recycled: 1.78 million tons (32%)
- Garbage: 3.79 million tons (68%)
Source: Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2000 Facts and Figures, U.S. EPA 2001
Reducing Unwanted Mail
Mail Preference Service
Households can significantly reduce their advertising mail by registering with the mail preference service DMAChoice. Use this site to request to start or stop receiving mail from four categories: credit offers, catalogs, magazine offers, and other mails offers. Or request changes in mailings by individual companies within each category.
Contact Individual Mailers
Not all companies use these national systems to purge their mailing lists. If you are still receiving junk mail from persistent mailers, contact the company directly and ask to be placed in their "do-not-mail file." Use their customer service telephone number (often toll-free), or make your request via e-mail or from the company’s website.
- Sample language: "Please remove my name from your marketing database. In addition, please do not pass along my name to others through mail list sales or trades. Thank you for your cooperation."
National advertisers compile and maintain large mailing lists of addresses nationwide, often for mailing coupons or local, weekly circulars. The publications are printed well in advance of their expected mailing date, so it usually takes six to eight weeks for your request to take effect.
- Valpak © (Cox Target Media): You can remove your name and address from the Valpak mailing lists at the Cox Target Media internet site by filling out the online form or by calling Cox Target Media. (888) 797-1896.
Credit Card Offers
The nation's major consumer credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, Innovis and Trans Union -- established a toll-free number to get off lists for pre-approved credit card solicitations. The recording will ask for your social security number, full name, address and telephone number.
- Phone: (888) 5-OPTOUT (567-8688)
Or sign up online to be removed from lists of pre-approved credit card solicitations.
The service allows you to opt out for five years or permanently. No matter what you pick, you can "opt back in" at any time by calling this same number.
- Disposal tip: Make sure to rip up credit application forms before discarding. This helps prevent "identity theft" and protects your credit and your privacy.
Mail List Brokers
These firms provide national lists for non-financial data. Call the toll free numbers listed below to request that your name and address be removed from their mailing lists.
- Experian: (800) 228-4571 ext. 4633
- Polk Company: (800) 464-7655