Junk Your Junk Mail
Constance Kratzer, Family Resource Management Specialist
College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences New Mexico State University
Is your mailbox filled with junk mail, the second and third-class promotional mail you do not wish to receive? Not only is junk mail a nuisance for those who do not wish to receive it, it contributes to the solid waste problem and drains natural resources.
Americans receive almost 2 million tons of junk mail every year, using paper from 100 million trees annually. In addition, items such as catalogs and brochures are often printed on slick, glossy virgin paper that is difficult to recycle.
If you enjoy reading junk mail, that is fine. If you do not, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of unwanted junk mail in your mailbox.
Stop Unwanted Junk Mail You Currently Receive
Stop the junk mail you now receive. Write the senders, asking them to remove your name from their mailing list, stop sending you mail, and stop passing your name along to other companies. Follow these easy steps:
- Tear off the mailing label.
- Remove the pre-addressed enclosed envelope.
- Write a note requesting the company remove you from their mailing list.
- Mail the note and label back to the company using the pre-addressed envelope.
Stop Future Junk Mail
There are several things you can do to stop future junk mail:
Registering with a service such as the Mail Preference Service (MPS) can help decrease the amount of national nonprofit or commercial mail received. As soon as you register with MPS your name will be placed on a “delete” list, and it will stay on the list for five years. Then you must send them your name again.
The “delete” list is available to business subscribers four times a year—January, April, July and October. Because your request may not be received at the exact time a list is made available, you may continue to receive mail for up to three months.
To register with MPS, write a letter asking that your name be removed from future mailing lists. Be sure to include all names under which you receive junk mail (for example, Mrs. John Doe, Jane Doe, Jane M. Doe, J.M. Doe, Mrs. Jane Doe). All variations of your name and names of other family members are necessary, as they are matched with your address and sorted by computer. You may want to make a list over a few weeks of the different ways your junk mail is addressed so your efforts have the greatest impact. Send the request to remove your name from mailing lists to:
Mail Preference Service
Attn: Dept: 682 7844
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 282
Carmel, NY 10512
Here is a sample of a letter requesting that your name be dropped:
Asking MPS to put your name on the “delete” list will not solve all your junk mail problems, as all businesses do not belong to MPS local organizations and will not receive notice to take your name off of their lists. You will need to contact local organizations directly. If you receive mail from them that includes a stamped envelope, simply return the stamped envelope with a note requesting that your name be dropped from their mailing list.
MPS also does not affect mail addressed to “current resident” or “occupant.” You must write directly to the company to request that your name be removed from its mailing list.
Avoid getting on mailing lists. Signing up for more information about a product at a fair or exposition will often result in an increase of unwanted mail. Also, be very cautious about signing up for a door prize or registering at a business’ open house. The registry may be used as a mailing list.
Another strategy to keep off unwanted mailing lists is to ask mail order companies with which you shop not to give or sell your name to any other companies. Then your name will be put on an “in-house only” list and will not be released to other direct marketers.
Direct Marketing Association, www.dmaconsumers.org, 2002
Earth Works Group, 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth. Berkeley, CA: Earthworks Press, 1989.
Elkington, J., Hailes, J., and Makower, J., The Green Consumer. New York: Penguin Books, 1988.
Originally written by Susan Wright, Extension Consumer Education Specialist.
To find more resources for your business, home, or family, visit the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences on the World Wide Web at aces.nmsu.edu.
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New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.
Revised and electronically distributed November 2002, Las Cruces, NM.