Do you ever cringe when you open your mailbox because it’s stuffed with junk mail? A growing number of people are sick of getting ads, catalogs and credit card come-ons, and they’re curious about what to do about it.
“It drives me crazy for so many reasons,” said junk mail-hater Juliet Pyles.
She sent an e-mail to WBZ’s Curiosity Web site: “Every day I receive a big stack of ads in the mail. They are horrible for the environment. What can residents do to opt out?” She adds, “I didn’t ask for it, so why am I getting this? I don’t even look through it.”
If it seems like junk mail grows and grows, that’s because it does. It’s the way the system works.
“How do they get your name? That’s always the big question,” says Edgar Dworsky who runs Consumerworld.org in Somerville.
He says if you ask for one catalog or one credit card, well, they multiply.
“These companies share your name, rent your name, sell your name and address to similar companies,” he said.
Pyles said it pours through the mail slot at her East Boston home. And even though she recycles, she knows that tons and tons of it end up in landfills, and that doesn’t even take into account the number of trees used to make the paper.
Diana from Plymouth is also tired of all the junk mail and wants to know, “When are they going to come out with a national do not mail list?”
A group called Forest Ethics is asking people to sign a petition calling on Congress to do just that. It would be like the “Do Not Call” list a lot of us signed up for. But so far, it’s a no-go.
“This is a significant issue, and the junk mail industry is responsible for huge amounts of devastation in the forest, filling up landfills,” says Matt Meyer of Forest Ethics.
“I would love to be able to find out how I can stop getting all this,” Pyles said. So WBZ decided to find out.
It’s not necessarily easy, but after talking with environmentalists, consumer advocates and searching the Web, we found there are a lot of ways to at least cut down on the mail you don’t want.
For example, there’s the Web site Catalog Choice where you can decline a catalog you’re currently receiving. Or 41 Pounds, named for the average amount of junk mail the organizers say we all receive each year. For a fee they’ll contact 20 to 30 direct mail companies and tell them to cut it out. It’s time consuming but it works.
Of course, the direct mail industry doesn’t see this as a big problem, saying it’s a way to communicate directly with consumers and show us the offers that are available. Even so, the industry’s trade group has a method for us to opt out.
Here’s a list showing that resource and a number of other resources you can look at to find out what you can do to decrease your junk mail:
- To opt out of credit bureau mailing lists: 1-888-5OPT-OUT
- Direct Marketing Association
- Catalog Choice
- 41 Pounds
- Consumer Guide to stopping junk mail from the Mass. Consumer Affairs Office
- Forest Ethics
- Top 10 Opt-Outs
- Consumer World
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