Infested with Paper Pests? Exterminate Your Junk Mail!

Do envelopes addressed to current resident constantly lurk in your mailbox? Are you drowning in a sea of catalogs, coupons and sales circulars?

Mailbox
Junk mail is a waste of valuable natural resources, money, space and time.
On an annual basis, 100 billion pieces of these paper pests are delivered by the United States Postal Service. Over 100 million trees are required to produce this amount of junk mail. Marketers spend $17 billion on postage for junk mail even though 44 percent of it is discarded unopened and only 2 percent of it garners a response from consumers. Over $350 million are spent to dispose of the 5.8 million tons of catalogs and direct mail advertisements that are discarded by potential customers.
Since the average person receives 10.8 pieces of this inconsequential correspondence each week, the war on junk mail is clearly one that everyone must face. However, there are numerous ways to combat this enemy.
• Do you enjoy catalogs but loathe credit offers? Do you appreciate charitable solicitations but not pizza coupons? Choose your mail preferences through the Direct Marketing Association or the National Do Not Mail List or Catalog Choice. You can select the correspondence that you receive from businesses, retailers and even nonprofit agencies based on your personal needs and interests.
• Stop credit card offers by visiting www.optoutprescreen.com. This option removes your name and address from lists generated by the four major credit bureaus: Equifax, Innovis, TransUnion and Experian.
• Call individual companies and request removal from their mailing lists.
• When completing a financial transaction with a company, request that the company refrain from sharing your personal information with other agencies.
• When ordering on the Internet, read privacy policies to learn if and how your information is shared with third parties and to understand how certain companies approach direct mail advertising. Ensure that any incarnations of an opt-in request for snail mail or electronic correspondence are not selected before you complete your business.
• Do not participate in surveys, raffles or product registrations unless you want to receive correspondence from a particular agency or company.
• To opt out of receiving phone books, visit Yellow Pages Opt Out or Dex Knows. You can choose or suspend phone book delivery based on your ZIP code. Other major phone companies such as Verizon offer opt-out options, too.
• If you are particularly tech-savvy, try the PaperKarma application for your smart phone. Scan the address label of any offending mail, and PaperKarma will send an opt-out request to the company on your behalf. PaperKarma is available for iPhone and Android systems.
• Always notify companies from whom you receive correspondence of major changes such as a name change due to marriage or divorce, an address change or a death. This action will ensure that the companies are not sending duplicate or unnecessary mailings and will prevent identity theft as well.

NEED TO KNOW
• A decrease in junk mail will not occur immediately. After you request removal from a mailing list, the offending mail will probably cease within several billing or mailing cycles.
• If all else fails, recycle your junk mail.
• To further reduce paper waste, request electronic versions of important mail such as billing statements and tax documents if those formats are available.

Visit the Federal Trade Commission for more information here.

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