Resolve to Reduce Junk Mail
BY “ECO-GAL” Mayre Press
If you’re among the millions of Americans concerned with identity theft, one of the best strategies is to decrease your junk mail. By resolving to cut junk mail in 2007, you’ll save trees, water, habitat loss and animal/plant species extinction. In 2005, more than 114 billion pieces of bulk mail advertising were mailed in the U.S. (up 15% from 2000). That’s 62 million trees and 28 billion gallons of water used to produce U.S. mail for just one year.
Habitat loss and species extinction–how does that relate to junk mail? According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, 55% of all paper fibers come from trees and 17% is from old-growth forests. Some 23 million acres of forest area were lost worldwide between 1990 and 2000. Habitat loss is a key cause of animal and plant extinction. Using 1995 figures, the percent of wildlife groups threatened with extinction are: birds-11%, reptiles-20%, mammals-25%, amphibians-25%, fish-34% and vascular plants-12.5%.
If you think recycling junk mail is enough, here’s another statistic to consider: 50% of all U.S. mail is discarded unopened. Recycling is great, but it won’t bring back an extinct species. Take these actions to reduce junk mail by toll-free call, mail or online.
Register with the Direct Marketing Association at www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailing for name removal. If you don’t have access to the web, the address is: Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 282, Carmel, NY 10512. Send a $1 check or money order, payable to DMA (no cash please). The “do-not-mail” file is updated monthly and distributed quarterly (January, April, July, and October) to direct mail merchants.
Your name remains on MPS for five years, after which time you may register again. The amount of mail you receive will begin to decrease about three months after your name is entered onto the quarterly file (a little longer if you use the mail-in option).
Consumers can take a further step and opt out of direct mail credit card and insurance offers by calling 888-5-OPT-OUT (888-567-8688) or by visiting www.optoutprescreen.com. If you choose to Opt-Out, you will no longer be included in firm offer lists provided by these consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion.
ADVO, whose ShopWise mailer shows pictures of missing children, has an online form you can complete to be removed from their list.
Right about now you might be saying, “Whoa, I don’t have time to fill out all of these forms or make phone calls. I’m too busy.” Well, with American “can-do spirit” some online businesses have been formed that will handle this task for you for a fee.
One such enterprise is greendimes.com, which for $3 a month (a dime a day — hence the company name), will keep you off junk mail lists while planting one tree every month for each of its members. You can pay a $36 one-time fee for 12 months of service or become a lifetime member for $360.
Another venture is called 41pounds.org with the name derived from the average amount of junk mail a person receives each year. A $41 one-time fee covers your entire household for five years. More than 50% of the profits from each sale go to environmental organizations, local schools and youth groups.
Regardless of the service you choose, it could take three or four months to notice a reduction in unwanted mail. These solutions do require some effort and/or financial investment on your part, though it’s time and money well spent. During 2007 your mailbox will be emptier and you’ll help save the planet.
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The issues/events presented are just a sampling of what’s available and does not represent an endorsement of any group or its activities. Contact Eco Gal at email@example.com.