American households received 15 percent less junk mail in 2009 than in the previous two years, according to the United States Postal Service survey "The Household Diary Study." This may seem like a significant decrease, but more than 85 billion advertisements still arrived in the mail. (See References 3, page 41) This figure not only represents a lot of unwanted junk mail arriving in your mailbox, it also signifies the loss of trees cut down to provide advertisers with a seemingly endless supply of paper. You can reduce the amount of junk mail that winds up in your mailbox; you might even save a tree or two.
Sign up for Opt-Out (optoutprescreen.com) to remove yourself from unsolicited offers for credit cards and insurance. Opt-Out removes your name from lists provided to insurance and credit card companies by the four consumer credit reporting companies, Experian, TransUnion, Equifax and Innovis. This service allows you to opt-out for either five years or permanently. (See References 2)
Register with Direct Marketing Association (dmachoice.org) to sign up for their Mail Preference Service. This service alerts direct-mail marketers and organizations that you do not wish to receive unsolicited mail. Plan to re-register every five years; registration is not permanent. (See References 1, 4, 5 )
Avoid entering sweepstakes and contests. Although the promise of winning a million dollars can make sweepstakes and contest entries tempting, the information you provide on entry forms is often sold to other businesses. Those businesses then send you solicitations for their services, starting the paper junk mail cycle all over again. (See References 6)
- Federal Trade Commission: Unsolicited Mail, Telemarketing and Email: Where to Go to "Just Say No"
- OptOutPrescreen.com: What Is the Purpose of This Website?
- U.S. Postal Service; "The Household Diary Study"; John Mazzone, et al.; April 2010
- DMAchoice: Get Started
- DMAchoice: FAQs
- Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality: Reduce Unwanted Junk Mail
Kate Hornsby has been a small-business owner for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer, covering a variety of topics, including pet care and operating a small business. Hornsby attended the Academy of Art online, studying interior architecture and design while pursuing commercial flight training at Aviation Atlanta in Georgia.
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