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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How to Get Rid of Unwanted Mail?

By: Mary Campbell, Urban Sustainability Agent

I often get asked this question when discussing reducing paper use. Since we each use approximately 700 pounds of paper each year, the amount of energy to make, transport and dispose of this paper is significant. So we print on both sides, widen our margins, only print when we must and recycle as much as we can. Then we open the mailbox and are faced with a flood of paper in the form of catalogs, advertising, and product offers. How do we stop this flood of unwanted mail? I found an excellent resource for this information: Federal Trade Commission Consumer Protection.

The Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mail Preference Service has a website that walks you through the options to opt out of receiving unsolicited commercial mail from many national companies. Once you have filled out the forms and selected your preferences it will reduce the selected mail for five years. When you register with this service, your name will be put on a “delete” file and made available to direct-mail marketers. However, your registration will not stop mailings from organizations that do not use the DMA’s Mail Preference Service. To register with DMA’s Mail Preference Service, go to

As we move into the season for catalogs, look for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle this paper. Go on-line to the catalog website and ask to receive only on-line information, offer catalogs to others who may be interested, and always recycle the catalogs when done. Make your preference for less paper known to businesses so they can be part of the solution to reduce waste.

Additional Resource:
EPA Paper Use -


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