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4 Steps to Stop Receiving Junk Mail

4 Steps to Stop Receiving Junk Mail (plus uses for it!)

We all want to stop receiving junk mail, amuh right? On average, American households receive approximately 69 pounds of unwanted mail each year, most of it unwanted and considered a nuisance. Sixty! Nine! Pounds! That's about a 10 year old!

Put an end to junk mail and you'll be saving more than trees: you'll be saving water, fuel, energy and other resources used in produciing and mailing unwanted mailers and catalogs. Oh, and sanity. Because if I have to open one more piece, I might scream.

The junk mail statistics are pretty staggering:

  • The number of trees used to produce this mail is hard to account for, but according to Recycled Papers: The Essential Guide it takes an average of 24 trees to produce one ton of the paper most used in junk mailers and catalogs. That's approximately 96 million trees per year in the US alone.
  • The EPA states over 50% of junk mail is not recycled, meaning 48 million trees are thrown away. That's the equivalent of chopping down a tree in every other yard across the nation.
  • With each ton of paper using between 2,500-6,000 gallons of water, the junk mail industry uses 10-24 BILLION gallons of water each year.
  • With the typical direct mail response rate at about 2%, that means 9.8-23.5 billion gallons of water, 23 and a half trees, and enough energy to power 245,000 homes is wasted each year.

And let's not forget that it's just annoying! According to Consumer Research Institute, we spend about 8 months of our life opening junk mail; that's more than an hour a week for 70 years! That's freaking ridiculous! Stop receiving junk mail and invest that time elsewhere!

How To Stop Receiving Junk Mail

There are several ways to stop receiving junk mail. Some cost money, others cost nothing more than a few minutes.

DMA Choice

This should be your first stop. Direct Marketing Association respresents nearly 3,600 companies, each required to respect your preferences. Through their opt-out service, you'll be removed from many or even most of the mailers you now you receive, while still receiving the ones you want. It can be done online for free or through the mail for $1. Visit DMAchoice.org for details on how to stop receiving junk mail from their members. You can even do the same for your email.

Credit Bureaus

Pre-approved offers from credit card companies probably account for the largest amount of junk mail in most households. Although it's tempting to cost them money by using their enclosed envelopes to request your removal, it sadly doesn't work (and it may be illegal). Instead, here's how you can stop receiving junk mail credit card offers:

  • Visit OptOutPrescreen.com or call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688) to be removed from the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. (This phone number will also remove you from various other mailing lists.) The electronic opt-out is for five years only. If you prefer a permanent opt-out, contact them via phone or mail below and request they do not share your personal information for promotional purposes:

  • Experian
    • By phone: (402) 458 5247
    • Mail: 901 West Bond
      Lincoln, NE 68521
      Attn: Consumer Services Department

  • TransUnion
    • By phone: (888) 567-8688
    • Mail: Name Removal Option
      P.O. Box 505
      Woodlyn, PA 19094

  • Equifax, Inc.
    • By phone: (888) 567-8688
    • Mail: Options
      P.O. Box 740123
      Atlanta, GA 30374-0123


Epsilon's Abacus Cooperative is a marketing tool for catalog and retail companies. Members contribute information about their customers in exchange for information about other customers that may be interested in their products. According to their website, you may opt out in the following ways:

  • By Email: By sending an email to abacusoptout@epsilon.com and including the following information:
    • full name (including middle initial)
    • current address
    • previous address if you have been at your current address fewer than six months
  • Or Phone: By phoning 1-888-780-3869 and leaving the above information.

Please note that by opting out of the Abacus Cooperative database, you may stop receiving catalogs that you enjoy receiving.

How to Stop Other Junk Mail

The above options will remove you from the majority of mailing lists.

For all others, simply contact the company. Find a phone number and give them a courtesy call. No need to be rude; just simply request to be removed from future mailings. Business prefer not to waste money and should appreciate your notifying them. This make take a minite or two of your time but will save you time in the future, as well as the resources wasted in unwanted mail.

A Use For Junk Mail

So, until these opt-out forms start working, what can you do with all that junk mail? Here are a few ideas to create a use for junk mail:

  • Recycle it: With well over half of all junk mail not being recycled, be sure to place yours in your paper bin to at least save a few resources.
  • Compost it: Most paper and ink use non-toxic materials and soy-based inks. Avoid the glossy stuff and any envelopes with plastic. Put it through the shredder first and then use it as "brown" matter in your home composting bin.
  • Mulch it: Shred non-glossy paper and use as a mulch around plants, shrubs and trees.
  • Package Material: Crumble it up or even shred it and use it for a sustainable packing material.
  • Animal Bedding: Use it on the bottom of your bird cage or as bedding for your hamster.
  • Crafts: Let your kids use them for collages, paper beads, paper mache, and other crafts.

Get creative and I'm sure you will find a use for junk mail not listed above. And then you can email me and tell me all about it!

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