We got a new mail man last week.
I was alerted to this change when I noticed crap mail showing up in our mailbox. Store fliers, ads for phone and internet bundles, stuff like that. I was surprised to see it. We hadn’t received crap mail in over a year. The only things we ever get in the mail these days are government and personal correspondence (i.e. income tax stuff, wedding invitations, etc). In other words, we probably get 3-5 pieces of mail in our mailbox a week. The sudden influx — 3-5 pieces a day — was alarming.
By the third day, I knew I had to take action. I was quickly reminded why I’d decided to eliminate junk mail in the first place. Who wants all that useless paper piling up in their home? (Answer: not me).
Because I’ve done this before, I knew exactly what to do. I just wrote up a note and taped it to the inside of my mail box:
Within two days, the junk mail stopped coming. Ahhhh. It feels good to have less paper piling up in our recycle box.
Simplifying your Mail
We stopped getting junk mail about a year and a half ago. I had purchased Tsh Oxenreider’s One Bite at at Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler, and one of the projects involved reducing mail clutter. This included opting out of junk mail.
At first I was scared to cut my junk mail. I’d miss all the sales! How would I know where to find all the best deals in town?
But I decided to take the plunge, and have never, ever regretted it.
There are three major reasons to opt out of junk mail:
1. Because the paper waste is egregious. (Seriously: that mountain of paper delivered to your house every single week, just so you can see what’s on sale at a couple of interesting places? And then throw the whole pile out every week? In the so-called digital age?? Does that seem like a reasonable use of resources?)
2. Because paper clutter in the house can quickly get out of hand, increasing your stress load. (See my thoughts on minimalism).
3. Because fewer ads in your life can help you reduce the number of unnecessary purchases you make, by eliminating temptation.
I decided that these were all great reasons to opt out of junk mail.
First, I’ll go over why I’m glad we got rid of the junk mail; then I’ll go over how you can do it, too!
Why I Don’t Miss Junk Mail
1. The vast majority of fliers contain nothing of interest, and would go straight into the recycling anyway. These include stores that sell furniture, major appliances, tools, gadgets, etc. How many times in my life do I need to look at ads for refrigerators? Why would I need weekly fliers advertising these things?
2. The rest of the fliers tempt me with things I don’t really need.
I’d rather not know about the new deals on smart phones or data plans. Often, when I do look at other peoples’ fliers, I suddenly feel like I need and want all kinds of things. Oooh, I would love a good mandolin for my kitchen. Hey, wouldn’t Lydia love some clothes for her doll? Oh, I could really use some accessories to update my wardrobe. Man, my phone is outdated. I avoid all this if I just avoid ads altogether.
If I’m not aware of new products or amazing reduced prices on old ones, I can’t want them.
3. Grocery stores – i.e. the places I actually do shop — don’t really have sales on the things I want, anyway.
What I want is local, organic produce; pastured meat, eggs, and dairy; etc. That stuff simply isn’t available from most grocery stores, and if it was, would almost never be on sale. I’m trying to buy less and less from grocery stores, and trying instead to either grow my own food or buy it from farmer’s markets, local farmers, local butchers, etc. Even flour, I now get from a local farmer. We get our fair-trade sugar, cocoa, and coffee from Ten Thousand Villages.
So it doesn’t matter to me whether Cheerios are cheaper at FreshCo or at the Real Canadian Superstore. I don’t want them either way. Price matching isn’t something that concerns me. Grocery store fliers, therefore, don’t have much to offer me.
4. I also don’t use commercial shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste, disposable pads/tampons, toilet paper, laundry detergent, sunscreen, or other conventional hygiene products, so those sales are irrelevant, too.
5. I’ve fallen in love with the reduced paper clutter and paper waste around the house. I love that we don’t have to organize and store stacks of paper fliers ever week. The only paper you’ll find in our recycling box, now, includes the occasional envelope, a few boxboard boxes, and some of Lydia’s old artwork. Simple.
6. If I ever do want to know what’s on sale at a given store, or if I’m interested in finding the best deal on a given item, the fliers are available online. (They’re a little more cumbersome to look through this way, but it’s okay for occasional use). Or I can just look at a friend’s fliers that week.
Ready to Get Rid of Junk Mail? Here’s How
The easiest and most effective step, in my experience, is to leave a note for your mail delivery person, as seen in the photo at the beginning of this post. With this step, my mailman simply quit putting unaddressed admail in our mailbox. After a week or two I was able to take the sign down. (He’s still required, by law, to deliver anything with our address on it, though. See resources below to get your name and address taken off of other mailing lists.)
I also told the junk mail delivery person, when I ran into her one afternoon, that I no longer wanted the fliers. Done and done.
Here are a few other resources to help you out:
#1: Red Dot Campaign – A good place to start. This site provides information on why and how to eliminate junk mail.
#2: In Canada, there’s one main organization you can write to to have your name and address deleted from their mailing lists. Go here to stop the delivery of all addressed admail items.
#3: You can sign up with the Canadian Marketing Association’s Do Not Contact Service. Here, you can have your name and address removed from the marketing lists shared by hundreds of their members (from Microsoft to CIBC). It seems to have worked for us. Simply fill out the registration form. (While you’re at it, you might as well add yourself to the Do Not Call List to reduce telemarketing calls, too.)
In the U.S.:
In other countries, google “do not mail list” + your country’s name.
What do you think? Have you tried this? Ready to ditch the junk mail? Or is something holding you back? Tell me about it!
Title photo courtesy of Charles Williams. Other images: 0Four and Kenn Wilson.