Is it possible to help preserve the environment, save some money, and keep your patience? If you’re interested in living ecologically, economically, and stress-free, here is an easy means to achieve these goals: reduce your junk mail. According to a survey conducted by the nonprofit Center for a New American Dream, 44 percent of junk mail is thrown away unopened. As a result, 5.6 million tons of untouched catalogs, solicitations and advertisements are added to U.S. landfills each year. If you estimate that the average hardwood tree weighs 1,000 pounds, that is more than 10 million trees wasted, in the truest sense, annually (and that’s not even considering all the fossil fuels and other natural resources used for manufacturing and transportation). Furthermore, it costs roughly $370 million to dispose of 5.6 million pounds of waste - that money, and hours of peoples’ valuable time and energy, are squandered each year by junk mail.
Alright, so now you have an idea of how wasteful it is to continue receiving junk mail, but you’re probably wondering how to go about stopping it. It is really not very difficult - you can decrease your junk mail by up to 90 percent with two steps. The first is to register with the Mail Preference Service of the Direct Marketing Association (dmaconsumers.org). On this site you can add your name to a list of people who do not wish to receive junk mail. Companies are not required to abide by this list but large organizations are likely to look at it and not send mail to those listed. (Remember, it saves them postage and supplies to respect your wishes.) The next step is to visit optoutprescreen.com and remove you and your parents’ name from a massive list created by credit card companies that solicitors often use to find addresses. If these actions do not seem to yield the desired results, you can directly contact the companies from which you have received junk mail and request to be removed from their lists. See, pretty easy!
So, do the earth, your purse, and your peace of mind a favor and dramatically decrease your junk mail. It only takes a moment and has many positive consequences.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.
This piece won the February 2007 Teen Ink Environment Contest.