Reducing the Amount of
Mail You Receive
I'm a Canadian citizen living in Toronto and I've gotten rather
frustrated with the amount of unsolicited, physical junk mail which I receive.
Easy Things to Do Right Now
past few years I've developed several techniques for reducing the junk mail
that I receive. Here they are in order of preference:
- Signage. I have clearly indicated on my mailbox that I do
not want to receive any sort of junk mail. The appropriate wording is "No Ad
Mail Please" although I have indicated "No Junk Mail Please" as I don't feel
the need to apply euphemisms for junk mail.
- Personal request. From what I can tell this is a rare thing
for people to do, and I had to point out the sign to my mail carrier.
Since then the amount of junk mail has gone down substantially.
- Join opt-out lists. There are
several around the
world and in Canada there's the
Marketing Association (I tried them, didn't seem to help). Also,
if you call Canada Post at 1-800-267-1177, choose 1 for English (2 for
French), then 2 for residential, then 20 to talk with a live operator you
can ask to have junk mail delivery to your address stopped (when I did this,
they simply told me to put a sticker reading "No Ad Mail" at the bottom of
my mailbox, see point #1 above).
- Send junk mail back to the sender. Whenever a company sends
a self addressed return envelope, banks and credit card companies send these
to me regularly, I stick someone else's junk mail to them in the envelope.
I do this regardless of whether the envelope has a stamp on it or not -- if
they want to waste my time with junk mail, I fully intend to waste their
time and money sending it back. Note that I do not do this to
charitable and/or non-profit organizations.
- Stick the junk mail right back in the mailbox. The way I
look at it, I not only didn't ask for the junk mail, I've actively asked for
it not to be delivered. Canada Post can deal with it -- they're paid
to deliver it, they should be forced to remove it.
- Spread the word. If you have found this article interesting, please share this URL (http://www.ambysoft.com/ideas/reduceJunkMail.html)
with your friends. Better yet, please link to it from one of your own
pages so that search services like Google learn about it faster. If you
have any ideas to help reduce junk mail which you'd like to share, please
Long Term Strategies
- Ask politicians to pass legislation to reduce junk mail. In
Canada the mail is a federal responsibility, so the first step is to send a
letter to your Member of Parliament (MP) suggesting one or more of the
following ideas. In my opinion there shouldn't be any reason why
provinces can't pass some of this legislation or even towns/cities at the
by-law level. So, also send copies to your MPP and town council.
- Require junk mailers to indicate the environmental damage caused by
their material. It should be easy enough to develop formulas to
calculate the number of trees killed in order to print the material (the
unit of measure should be in terms of acreage) as well as the carbon
footprint of the printing and delivery process. These two figures
could be printed in the bottom corner of the publication. The reason
why this is important is that it makes the environmental cost of the junk
mail explicit to the receiver, and thereby motivates the junk mailers to
think about the potential damage to their corporate image.
- Require opt-in lists for junk mail. Instead of putting the
onus on the receiver to deal with unwanted junk mail, why not put it on
Canada post and the junk mailers themselves where it really belongs?
Instead of a "No Ad Mail Please" sticker on my mailbox, why not require me
to put up a "Ad Mail Please" sticker to indicate that I'm actually
interested in all that junk mail? Why not require marketers to
specifically address their marketing literature to me, the technology exists
for them to easily do this, and require them to do so only if I allowed
Why Reduce Junk Mail?
Simple: hundreds of thousands of acres of trees
are being cut down every year so that companies can send us marketing material
that most of us would prefer not to receive. It's time we put a stop to
What Is the Impact?
- Improved environment. Reducing the junk mail that we
receive will reduce landfill requirements (not everyone recycles) and reduce
the environmental damage associated with producing and delivering this
mostly unwanted advertising.
- Advertising dollars will be invested elsewhere. There are
many venues for advertising, junk mail is just one of them.
- Canada Post will need to reorganize. Many people claim that
postal organizations such as Canada Post and
the US Post Office are able to keep the postage rates down for the rest of us
due to the money they make delivering junk mail. Considering that junk
mail is delivered at substantially reduced rates, what I really think is going
on is that these organizations are simply looking for a way to justify their
bloated organizations. Does avoiding the uncomfortable issue of "dealing
with" the postal union really justify the environmental damage caused by