It’s happened to all of us. You walk out to your mailbox, open the door, and pull out a thick, folded wad of unwanted mail. You can already see the coupons, credit card offers, and advertisements, so you go straight to the garbage can and start tossing. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with one or two bits of mail that you’re actually interested in opening.
On average, every American receives 41 lbs. of unwanted mail per year. That’s 41 lbs. of unwanted mail for every member of your household. The average person spends more than a year and a half of their life going through mail.
You didn’t want the mail or ask for it and you’re not interested in the offer, so where does it go? Right into the trash or recycling can, along with the 15,000 lbs. of unwanted mail everyone else throws away every day. Maybe unsurprisingly, nearly half of all of those pieces of unwanted mail are never even opened.
Putting a stop to the amount of unwanted mail you receive can give you more time in the day to do the things that are important to you, and of course, reduce clutter.
Benefits of Reducing Your Unwanted Postal Mail
The first thing you’ll notice when you eliminate your unwanted mail is that your trips to the mailbox are much less disappointing. The mail you receive is there for a reason and you actually want to read it. You’ll see a significant reduction in clutter as those little piles of mail you’re “going to look at later” start to disappear.
The less obvious but even more important result, is that your household’s carbon footprint will be dramatically reduced. An average family of four who eliminates their unwanted mail waste will reduce toxic emissions by more than 572 lbs. per year.
You might have wondered before whether the postal mail you’re throwing out could pose a risk to the security of your identity and personal information. The U.S. Postal Service’s 2016 Annual Report stated there were more than 60,000 cases of mail theft in a single year, many involving attempted or convicted identity theft. So reducing the amount of unwanted mail you receive, such as unsolicited credit card offers, could also help you safeguard your identity.
Why are you receiving unwanted mail?
There could be a number of reasons you are receiving unwanted mail. As you shop or go about your everyday activities, companies receive access to your personal information and add it to their records. Over time, the number of mailing lists or catalogs you didn’t consciously opt into just seems to grow and grow. That translates into more unwanted mail.
You may also find yourself receiving unwanted mail from companies or institutions you’ve never interacted with. That’s because some companies will obtain your address, name, and other information from public records, applications, directories, and sometimes even the USPS itself. Then, they use your information for huge direct mail marketing campaigns for their clients.
This combination of a digital footprint and direct mail marketing campaigns are part of why that pile of unwanted mail only seems to grow.
How to Stop Unwanted Mail from Individual Senders
Learning where unwanted mail is coming from can help you put a dent in the amount you receive. If you know where the items are coming from, you can opt out and register for the postal mail equivalent of a “Do Not Call” list. However, direct mail companies cannot guarantee that your name will be removed from all lists, so alternative options should be considered. The following are options for removing your information from specific lists and types of lists. Keep reading to find out how you can get rid of unwanted postal mail all at once.
Stop Unwanted Postal Mail Offers
You can opt-out of certain types of mail like insurance and credit offers for five years or forever, according to the Federal Trade Commission. You can also write into each of the three major credit bureaus with a request to opt-out of postal mail offers.
PO Box 919
Allen, TX 75013
Name Removal Option
PO Box 505
Woodlyn, PA 19094
PO Box 740123
Atlanta, GA 30374
Opt-Out of Direct Mail
To remove your name from thousands of direct mail lists at once, you can submit a request to be placed on the National Do Not Mail List. You’ll have to update your status on this list every six months through Direct Mail.
Opt-Out of Data & Marketing Association
The Data & Marketing Association, a direct mail company that provides your consumer information to countless marketers, will allow you to opt-out for a fee of $2 or $3, depending on whether you register online or by mail.
Data & Marketing Association
PO Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
Neither DMA nor Direct Mail can guarantee your name will be removed from all lists.
Stop Receiving Catalogs
If you’re receiving catalogs, your information is probably on a list with Abacus, an association of publishing companies. You can have yourself removed from the list via email or by writing to their physical address.
PO Box 1478
Broomfield, CO 80038
Alternatively, you can request a free service from Catalog Choice to cancel specific catalogs and other postal mail. Not all catalogs and postal mail can be canceled through Catalog Choice, so you’ll have to search their database.
Stop Receiving Subscriptions
If you’re subscribed to a magazine or organization, you can make a request directly to the sender to cancel your subscription and remove your name from their registry. Unfortunately, many of these senders sell or share your information with other lists, so you’ll have to make one or more requests that they do not share your information, and then start the process of opting out of any lists they’ve already added your name to.
Stop Donation Requests
When you donate to a charity, your name and information are typically added to their mailing list and are often sold to or exchanged with other lists. To prevent this, include a note with all donations asking that your information not be shared. You can also request that the organization not send you further donation requests or that they reduce the frequency of the requests. If you have no interest in continuing to donate to the organization, you can request that your name be removed from the mailing list and not shared.
“Dear Current Resident”
If you receive mail that’s addressed to “resident” or “occupant,” you can return the promotion to the sender if the envelope is marked with:
Return/forwarding/address/change service requested
First Class Mail
Just write “return to sender” on the envelope and place it in the outgoing mail.
Many organizations sell your information to direct mail marketers. If you’re attempting to clear your mailbox using the opt-out method, include opt-out requests to SKUlocal and RetailMeNot. If you continue to receive marketing mail, contact senders individually to be taken off each list.
Stop Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes
Publishers Clearing House is one of the most common direct mail marketers and has been since the 50s. Opt-out of this mailing list with their online form, by email, or by writing to their physical address.
Consumer & Privacy Affairs
Publishers Clearing House
300 Jericho Quadrangle #300
Jericho, NY 11753
Do Not Mail Registry
The Center for a New American Dream is an organization that campaigns for a Do Not Mail service in the United States. So far, 14 states have considered implementing registries and fines for companies who ignore them. There are paid services available to help you remove your name from individual lists, but none can guarantee complete removal or even that the mailers will follow through with the removals.
How to Stop Unwanted Mail in the Future
Once you’ve gotten the bulk of your bulk mail eliminated, make sure it stays that way by contacting any organization that still has permission to use your information and ask that they do not share it with anyone without your consent. This includes banks, utility companies, insurance companies, credit card companies, and more. Any time you provide your information when ordering or registering a product, subscribing to a publication or service, entering a contest, etc., make a request that your information be kept private. This can be done by simply writing “no mailing lists” next to your name.
Stop Unwanted Mail With a Virtual Mailbox
Another way to put an end to unwanted mail is a virtual mailbox. A virtual mailbox regulates your postal mailbox automatically with rules you set regarding what you’d like to receive. Of course, you can supplement a virtual mailbox with various opt-out methods to truly optimize your mailbox.
Services like Earth Class Mail allow you to go paperless, dramatically reducing the amount of time you spend dealing with mail by letting you access your deliveries from any smart device at your convenience. In fact, Earth Class Mail will automatically sort out certain classes of postal mail so that unwanted promotional mail never makes it to you.
While a virtual mailbox doesn’t stop unwanted mail from being produced or sent to you, it does make it so that you never have to interact with it. Moreover, every bit of postal mail that passes through Earth Class Mail facilities that is not forwarded to its owner, is securely shredded and recycled.
What is a virtual mailbox?
Virtual mailboxes are the modern-day solution for reducing the amount of unwanted mail you receive and spending less time sifting through it every day. It allows you to access your mail from any smart device, enabling you to travel without worrying about what you’ll miss, provide a secure address for your home-based business, and keep a secure record of important documents.
A provider like Earth Class Mail will convert your postal mail into a digital format that you can access like email. With Earth Class Mail, you can store postal mail, share it, or transfer it to connected apps like Dropbox or Google Drive. When you choose to discard unwanted mail, Earth Class Mail will shred it and recycle the materials. Virtual mail reduces unwanted mail and provides an additional layer of security against mail theft. Plus, you can access your postal mail online, on any device.
Stop Receiving Unwanted Mail
Unwanted mail affects more than your mailbox and your workday, but fortunately there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of mail you receive. One option is to go through the various opt-out methods and preventative measures and hope that your information isn’t still out there being shared. Another option is to sign up for a virtual mailbox that will filter your mail automatically according to your settings and selections and immediately stop unwanted mail from ever arriving. A virtual mailbox service like Earth Class Mail will not only allow you to set smart rules, but they will also recycle any unwanted mail or pieces of postal mail that are not stored or forwarded. Of course, you can also combine opt-out methods with a virtual mailbox and put an end to unwanted mail once and for all.
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