Websites let you opt out of junk mail, help environmentGetting seed catalogs when you don’t garden? Don’t really need a fifth credit card? No interest in satellite television?
Getting seed catalogs when you don’t garden? Don’t really need a fifth credit card? No interest in satellite television?
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is urging Minnesotans to opt out of junk mail and take action to stop the stuff from coming.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans receive and then toss 5.8 million tons of unsolicited junk mail every year.
All that paper comes from millions of trees, requires a lot of energy to be made and then requires more energy to be sent to print shops and on to your house. All that energy use is spewing carbon and other emissions into the air.
Getting rid of junk mail would have the same effect as taking millions of cars off roads, proponents say.
“Junk mail makes up more of the [waste stream] than disposable diapers,’’ said Alexis Donath, PCA spokeswoman. “Everyone gets junk mail. It’s something we can all make a difference on. And with the new year, we thought it was a good time for a resolution.’’
One option is to call the company sending you the junk mail. But an easier option is to get your name on so-called “Do Not Mail’’ lists that work much like the popular Do Not Call lists, which have vastly reduced those annoying telephone solicitations.
They don’t block out catalogs or ads that you request.
The PCA suggests these sites:
# At dmachoice.org, consumers can remove their names from mailing lists for unwanted advertising, donation requests, catalogs and other offers.
# At catalogchoice.org, customers can unsubscribe from specific catalogs.
# At optoutprescreen.org (or 888-567-8688), consumers can opt out of credit card solicitations for either five years or permanently. Experts say this not only is a smart green move, but also might help prevent identity theft.
While it’s hard to tell the difference between junk and non-junk mail once it’s thrown out, paper that should be recycled makes up a bug chunk of what goes to landfills, said Karen Anderson, spokeswoman for the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District.
“Paper is by far the number one recyclable we find in the waste stream. Junk mail just adds loads to that,’’ she said.
Some groups, including ForestEthics (donotmail.org), are working to make junk mail illegal. They’ve gathered more than a million signatures on a petition but so far haven’t made progress in Congress. They’re opposed by the direct mail and catalog companies that say they need mail marketing and sales to keep the economy humming. Opponents to direct mail restrictions say the industry creates 3.5 million U.S. jobs.
Another group, 41pounds.org — the average adult tosses about 41 pounds of junk mail each year — promises to remove your name from 80 to 95 percent of junk mail lists. That will help keep millions of trees in the ground soaking up climate change-causing carbon, they say.
The group figures junk mail creates more carbon dioxide pollution than 9 million cars. They charge $41 for the service, but they donate part of that to your favorite charity — electronically, with no mail.