Monday, January 12, 2009

Junk Mail Got You Overwhelmed?

These catalogs came to my home in just 3 days. Do the math. How much is that in a year's time? The landfills are bursting as it is. I've been using catalogs and newspaper to line my gardens underneath the mulch. This slows down the weeds and helps use up a lot, but no way will it eradicate the problem. I also compost a bunch of them. That's still not the answer, as you can only compost so much paper with your food scraps. So, what can you do to stop the catalogs from bombarding you?
First, a few facts, and then I'll tell you what tools I have found that promise to cut your junk mail significantly. These facts came from a Good Morning America (ABC) show that aired October 18, 2007. The numbers are likely larger now.
  • The average family gets 26 pieces of junk mail per week (an admittedly low estimate)
  • This adds up to about 100 million trees
  • It weighs about 4.5 million tons, costing a fortune in gasoline to transport to all of our mailboxes.
  • There are about 19 million catalogs printed for use in the U.S. each year, which adds up to about 53 million trees, just in catalogs.
  • It takes about 38 trillion BTU's to create this material, which is enough to power about 1.2 million homes.

So what can you do to cut back on all this wasted paper, gasoline and power? A little research, and I found out that there is quite a bit you can do. You may not have time to use all of these methods, but pick one or two and try them. I'll do the same. I'd love to hear how your results pan out.

An organization called Green Dimes, started in 2006 byPankaj Shah, claims to help you reduce your junk mail by up to 90%, in about 90 days. They have received a lot of coverage in the news media, including Ellen, Oprah, The New York Times, Business Week, and more. For $20, Green Dimes will send you a kit to help you contact all the organizations that sell your name and address to junk mail advertisers. Could be $20 well spent. In addition to their assistance, they will plant trees (5 per customer?) when you sign up.

The Direct Marketing Association is aware of the problem, and offers assistance on their site for limiting who sends you mail. Their assistance is in helping you stay off of new customer lists, and costs $1.

Stop the Junk Mail is an organization that helps small businesses with up to 25 employees tame their daily advertising mail, for $20-$90. A 2007 article Business Week said they currently had 6000 members.

Free services that I found include Ecocycle, which includes a recycling resource similar to Earth 911, and Obviously Junk Mail, a home-grown version of instructions for limiting the junk. The latter helps consumers with list brokers that are not members of the Direct Marketing Association. Catalog Choice helps you make choices about paper catalogs that you no longer wish to receive.

Enough about catalogs. Let's talk about paper that actually has a great purpose: COUPONS!!! Tomorrow's post will be packed with organic food coupons. Warm up your printer and join me for some savings.

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