Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lighten the MA Mail Carriers Load

Catalog Choice is offering a service aimed at reducing the number of unsolicited catalogs delivered to our mail boxes. I only saw the link today but plan to try it out soon. I am amazed at how many catalogs are passing through our household this year. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has used this service or anyone that has found other effective ways to reduce the flow of unsolicited paper into our homes.

1 comment:

Alfred Sawatzky said...

Here's some very helpful information from one of our neighborhood residents (Thanks Ned!)

Like many of you I am constantly bombarded by junk mail and credit card offers, etc.
As someone who is seeing more and more green ways to live these days and looking for ways to be less of a drain on our planet, I am upset with how much of our natural resources are being wasted in order to create these unwanted mailings. It's not only paper but the total embodied energy of this process - transportation, chemicals, etc.

I have done some research on how to stop these mailings, and decided it's worth
sharing with you. Please consider both simplifying your life, and
reducing deforestation and energy consumption by eliminating unwanted
catalogs and junk offers.

1) The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) handles the distribution of
rented mailing lists. Once you opt-out, DMA's member companies are
required to remove you from their prospect mailing lists. This will
typically cause a great reduction in unsolicited catalogs from
merchants with whom you have never done business. However, it will
not stop mailings addressed to "Occupant/Resident", or merchants you
have done business with.

The DMA charges you $1 to opt-out, or as they claim, "to verify your
identity". Despite having to pay for the privilege of not being
advertised to, it's probably worth it.

2) Ok, the unsolicited catalogs rented lists are handled. But
catalogs continue from businesses you may have bought something from
ten years ago. You could call each one up, navigate their accursed
voicemail, wait on hold, and ask to be removed. But here is a much
easier alternative:

Using this service, you enter the catalog info and then Catalog
Choice handles contacting the merchant and removing your name.
Catalog Choice is sponsored by several environmental and wildlife
organizations, whose goals are to reduce consumption and

3) Next, get rid of some of the resident/occupant junk that arrives
by the handful.
Grocery flyers:

Val-Pak blue envelopes:

Some of our resident/occupant junk is sent by local direct marketing
companies. You can find their phone number on the postcard that
accompanies the mailing. Call and ask to be removed.

4) If your credit is good, you will receive gazillions of
pre-approved credit card and mortgage offers. All of these originate
with lists supplied by four credit reporting companies, Equifax,
Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion, acting on behalf of their client
banks. You can opt-out from them all at once here:

The online opt-out is good for five years; mail it in for permanent opt-out.

5) Please realize that the fact you have made a purchase makes your
name valuable to related businesses. Your name and address will be
sold whenever possible. Therefore deny permission to share your
personal data whenever this option is presented. Online you may see a
check box (conveniently checked already), allowing the merchant to
send catalogs or for "selected affiliates to send special offers".
Uncheck it.

Financial institutions such as banks and credit card issuers are now
required by many states to publish their policy regarding sharing of
personal information. Call your credit card companies and banks, and
ask them about their "privacy policy and choices". If they offer a
choice (most do, thanks to California and Vermont), deny them
permission to share your information outside the company, and within
their family of companies. This will eliminate many unsolicited
offers of products and services.

While you have them on the phone, ask them to stop stuffing your
statements with advertising. Most can honor this request. Or if you
feel ready to go paperless, switch to online statements.

6) Do not fill out warranty registration cards or consumer surveys.
When giving to charities and non-profits, tell them "do not rent or
share my name". When applying for supermarket loyalty cards, give a
false name and non-existent address.

I hope this is helpful to you. Feel free to forward this email to
your friends.

ned mathers

P.S. Here are some factoids I came across (unverified):

* Americans receive almost 4 million tons of junk mail every year:
350 pieces of bulk mail for every man, woman, and child.

* Americans throw away 44% of bulk mail unopened, yet still spend 2
months per lifetime opening bulk mail.

* Each year, 100 million trees are used to produce junk mail, the
equivalent of deforesting the entire Rocky Mountain National Park
every four months.

* 250,000 homes could be heated with one day's supply of junk mail.

* The yearly production and disposal of junk mail consumes more
energy than 2.8 million cars.