Sunday, November 14, 2010

This Week I Will Stop My Junk Mail

Last week's junk mail.
I’ve stopped my junk mail once or twice before, but it always seems to creep back. Lately it’s been shocking how much there is. I feel like every time I order something online, that company sends me a snail mail catalog. Whenever I sign the kids up for a class or get an estimate for a house repair I’m soon inundated with related junk mail. In any one week (see photo) I get huge catalogs I never ordered, dozens of applications and subscription notices and a small mountain of flyers, ads and coupons. We do most of our bills online. Almost no one writes anymore. So most of our full mailbox goes straight into the blue waste bin. Except that first we have to sort through the pile to make sure there’s nothing important and shred all those credit card applications. Junk mail is a waste of resources – and a big waste of time.

This week I will follow the links below and take steps to reduce my junk mail. I’ll let you know how it goes and I’ll update future blogs when I can tell how well the steps have worked. The junk mail photo shown is my actual junk for a week. I hope it gets better!

Why Bother?
Junk Mail Hurts the Environment
·       It takes more than 100 million trees to produce the total volume of America’s yearly junk mail.
  • Creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.
  • About 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle junk mail each year.
  • The pulp and paper industry is the third-largest industrial greenhouse gas emitter (after the chemical and steel industries).
  • Junk mail inks have high concentrations of heavy metals.
Junk Mail Really Is a Waste
·         Every year American households receive a total of 104.7 billion pieces of junk mail, which requires 6.5 million tons of paper.
·         Junk mail in the U.S. accounts for about 30% of all the mail delivered in the world.
·         Approximately 44% of junk mail goes to landfills unopened.

Junk Mail Costs Us Money
  • $320 million of local taxes are used to dispose of junk mail each year.
  • Transporting junk mail costs $550 million a year.

Helpful Links
More information on the problems with junk mail

Download a PDF with instructions for stopping junk mail

Instructions for stopping junk mail

More information on stopping junk mail and identity theft

Service that does it for you

Opt out of credit card offers

Helpful mailing labels

Tikkun olam means, in its most basic form, repairing the world. It is an ancient term from long before we worried about carbon emissions or mercury in our fish. It promotes the idea that we are the stewards of our planet and we that must be constant and vigilant in our responsibility. And not only must we take care of the earth and seas and creatures, but we have to fix what is broken. And this is our job for as long as we are on this planet.


  1. This is more of a there any legislation in the works that would actually regulate the amount of junk mail that businesses can send? Initiatives that involve people needing make an effort to "opt-out" are great, but as you might imagine (since it involves time & effort & awareness), are not as effective as strict regulation. p.s. Can I have your Bed, Bath, & Beyond coupon? Just kidding, I have about a thousand of them;)

  2. I got this great information from S. Cohen. I'll give it a try soon - my week's half over!:

    "One of the easiest ways to do this is by using Catalog Choice Their free service lets you stop catalogs one by one but for an annual donation, they'll do the work for you. I love these guys."

  3. I don't know about junk mail legislation (yet!), but there are organizations collecting petitions to create regulations. Here is one that I filled out. It goes to your state's representatives.