Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Junk Mail

I was reading an article the other day about junk mail, and how it keeps the Post Office afloat. I got to thinking about my own mail -- when was the last time I got a real letter? I got a postcard from my Peace Corps friend Liz two or three weeks ago, and occasionally I get cards, but it’s probably been years since I got a letter. (Or wrote a letter, for that matter.)

In fact, most days I throw away all my mail. All the credit card solicitations, theater company promos, bulk mail fliers, coupons, all that stuff. I tear it up and toss it out. I don’t open any of it. I recycle the catalogs, unread.

I began paying all my bills online when stamps went above 40 cents. I still get Netflix -- that’s probably my principal use of regular mail at this point -- but it won’t be long before we’re all streaming movies over the Internet.

This article mentioned that the government has considered creating a “Do Not Mail” list, similar to the “Do Not Call” list, but those initiatives never get off the ground because they would essentially kill the postal service, not to mention depriving marketers of an allegedly valuable channel.

I’d hate to see the Post Office die completely, but at the same time, I hate the wastefulness of junk mail. There are firms that promise to bring it under control, contacting mailers to remove you from their lists, for a small fee. I’ve thought about doing that. I’ve also heard you can just mark it “return to sender,” but I’m not sure the Post Office really returns bulk mail -- I think they just throw it out.

Anyone have any ideas?

(Photo: Octopus graffiti in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Sept. 2008)


  1. At MediaConcept's suggestion, I have been contacting the people who send out those beautiful glossy catalogs one-by-one and asking them to take me off their mailing list and their e-mail list. I have been more successful with the mailing lists. But it has significantly lightened the pile in the mailbox each day that as you say consists almost 100% of things from people I don't know.

  2. Hmm; I don't really know how to lighten that load. Barbara, above, seems to be on the right track.

    But the letter/postcard: Why not start a movement, sending out a card/letter a week to someone, and inviting them to do the same?

  3. I LOVE receiving real letters and cards. They're so precious these days.

    As for junk mail, I consider it to be one of those modern day annoyances, like traffic noise. I can write a million emails, call local officials and spend a whole lot of time and effort trying to re-route traffic past my house, or I can close the window and Let It Be.

    Junk mail? I just throw it in the recycle bin, try not to invest more than a few calories of energy or exasperation in the process.

  4. The post office has become totally unnecesssary. If the government would butt out, others could do the job of delivering the real mail for a fraction of the cost.

  5. we can do a free "Remove from mail list" thing over here, I did it a few years ago. But it always starts up again after a while....

    and its a bit scarey some of the companies who think I might be interested in their products.... esp. some of the clothing catalogues...

    I've been meaning to do a cross - no, not cross, just emphatic - note to put up in our front door, saying No fliers, take-away menus etc.. etc.

    and I get pissed off with the amount of junk mail which comes inside my weekend paper....

    touched a nerve here, can you tell?

  6. Steve,

    The last card I received was from you...

    As Reya said above, cards and letters are becoming a precious thing.

    I saved yours, along with some others I received this year and plan on sending out letters to those who wrote, partly because I still enjoy writing them and partly because I can do so outdoors in beautiful fall weather.

    Junk mail, however, is a menace. I tried one of those sites that supply the information allowing me to write and cancel junk mmail myself with little luck. As soon as I'd got rid of one thing, another popped up in its place...Maddening!

  7. Dennis eats all junk mail. Roughage.

  8. You know Mailbox was the theme for today (Thursday)

  9. I HATE JUNK MAIL - and 90% of my mail is junk mail - at BOTH of my addresses! Either that, or it's BILLS (and even many of those are electronic these days). I'd like them to just do away with junk mail somehow . . . even if they charged people some kind of user fee.

  10. "Junk mail keeps the post office afloat"
    Man, what a metphor...i wish I had that when I was talkng bout strip malls!

    hi Steve!

  11. I'm with you I don't open any of those solicitions and catalogs they do not pass go and go directly into the recycle bag.

    someone told me there's a site that is operating as a do not mail list...but I didn't write down the address and I can't remember the specifics.

    theme thursday one day early.... synchronicity!!!!

  12. You should check out the DMA
    . Many direct marketers belong to it, and you can remove yourself from the list.
    For catalogs, check out
    Catalog choice

  13. I happen to be one of the owners of MyJunkTree and as a new company I search the web to see if we are getting any visibility out there and I post n relevant Blogs.

    We launched the company because we were tired of all the junk mail we were receiving and we personally did not want to bounce all over the web to contact all the different companies to stop it all. First and foremost we wanted to let people choose what they wanted to let come to their home knowing that some people really do like some of the coupons and catalogs. So our clients choose what they want stopped.

    We also had to provide a service that is different than the other services out there, so here is what we offer:

    1. We have a database of over 1300 catalogs that you can choose to stop.
    2. We have over a 5700 charities/Non-Profits that you can stop solicitations from.
    3. Stop the delivery of the national phone directories.
    4. Stop the delivery of the weekly coupons.
    5. Stop the general credit card offers as well as the ones from your own major bank.
    6. Stop the miscellaneous junk mail from the data brokers.
    7. You can register on the National Do Not Call Registry from the website.
    8. You can order your no strings attached free annual credit report right from the website.
    9. We plant trees with every new membership.

    And, yes we are a paid service and yes you can do everything that we do for free, if you want to do all the research and spend the time contacting the companies yourself it can easily be done. We have just done all of the legwork for our clients and feel there is value in the service we provide. So check out MyJunkTree and make difference in your mailbox.