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Editor's Blog

Stopping the junk mail that fills your mailbox

By Kenneth Barbalace
[Monday, August 06, 2007]

Junk mail clogs our mailboxes, fills up our trash/recycle bins, wastes our natural resources and in the case of credit card applications, opens us up to the potential for identity theft. For years people have had to suffer this unwanted plague infesting our mail boxes, because the effort required to get off of these mailing lists was just too great.

A couple of months ago I learned of a service called GreenDimes that will fill out the contact bulk mail, catalog and credit card companies on my behalf and fill out the forms necessary to get these companies to stop sending our household unsolicited mail (e.g. credit card applications). In addition, with every subscription purchased, GreenDimes plants trees through their tree planting partners to help off set some of the trees that get killed by junk mail companies.

Yes, I know I could do much of this myself, but they have the process automated, which saves me considerable time, effort and frustration. For me this time savings was well worth the subscription cost. Obviously, the stopping of junk mail isn't an overnight event, but over the past couple of months, the flow of junk mail our postal carrier delivers to us has significantly slowed. There is, however, still one "shared mail" company that is sending us those weekly mailing circulars, in spite of the fact that I contacted them directly myself and asked them to stop sending us their crap.

When I signed up for GreenDimes they were charging a $39 annual subscription fee, however, in my email this morning I saw an announcement from them that they are changing the fee to a one time $15 fee making it a much more attractive service.

We should not, however, need to pay some third party to facilitate the stopping of junk mail, nor rely on companies' voluntarily honoring "do not mail" requests. Just like there is a National Do Not Call Registry here in the United States that companies must subscribe to and honor if they are going to make telemarketing calls, there needs to be a "national do not mail" registry that companies must subscribe to and cull their mailing lists against prior to sending out bulk mail mailings. To facilitate a grassroots effort to lobby Congress to create just such a "national do no mail registry," GreenDimes has now started an online petition.

To be sure, there are some very powerful corporate interests that would not want to see such a list mandated, and to be sure they will throw lots of lobbying money at defeating any efforts to create a "national do not mail registry," however, a precedent was set with the National Do Not Call Registry and a solid grassroots effort to lobby for such a list could prevail in the end. Freedom of speech isn't just the right to broadcast one's message to others; it is also the right to be free of unwanted intrusions. Just like we have the right to opt out of telemarketers calling us via a national registry, we should also have the right to opt out of junk mail solicitations via a national registry. Such a registry is also the right thing to do to help conserve our natural resources and reduce the waste that goes into landfills or has to be recycled. Just think how many trees would be spared and how much water saved if those of us who do not want to receive junk mail could easily opt out from receiving it.


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Anonymous said...

It's great to see the enthusiasm about stopping wasteful junk mail!! Another excellent service is 41pounds -- a nonprofit organization devoted exclusively to stopping junk mail. 41pounds donates more than 1/3 of their revenues to environmental and community organizations like StopGlobalWarming.org and Trees for the Future. You can sign up at www.41pounds.org.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for mentioning GreenDimes in your post, we really appreciate your taking the time to tell others about our website. Make sure you check the site from time to time and see what new ideas we are working on to help make the world a better place. Thanks again for your post!
Take good care,

Max said...

Thanks for the post.

You can also sign do not mail petition ( like Do Not Call National Petition)

I did some search online and this is the best resource so far available online ( correct me if I am wrong). I have done this 5 months ago and my mailbox is literally empty ( I have paperless billing and also opted out from various mail lists) I check my mail twice a month now. It is beautiful. ( What a freedom).

I even took the letter from samples provided and wrote it to a local Chinese restaurant that keeps putting fliers in my door. They stopped too in the whole subdivision.

Save the time for yourself.


I even opted out from the yellow book. What do I need it for, since the internet is right here.

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