junk mail wars

Junk mail is offensive on many levels.

First, it disappoints. You arrive home to find a full mailbox and think: Oh fun! Maybe it’s a wedding invite or a letter from a far away friend! Fishing it out, you discover it’s just a Crate & Barrel catalog full of furniture you’ll never be able to afford without selling a kidney. It’s hardly a satisfying way to come home after a long day of work.

Junk mail makes us think daily about the things we don’t have, things we wouldn’t miss otherwise. Catalogs show us photos of homes much cleaner and trendier than our own, clothes to fill our already-full closets, and credit card offers that tell us that yes, of course we can buy the $200 dress and pay for it later. (Throw in the over-priced sofa, too!) It’s a recipe for discontent. Even if your habit is to toss it all into the recycling bin, that’s a lot of wasted ink (not to mention the resources to recycle it all, the wasted time sorting mail when you could be vegging out on the couch already, or the risk of identity theft if the wrong person gets their hands on your blank credit card application). Ugh.

As if that wasn’t enough, junk mail takes up a surprising amount of space, which you’ll notice if you live in a small apartment like us. Goodbye pantry, hello ever-growing mountain of paper. Despite all efforts to shop wisely and avoid excessive packaging, you may find yourself still wasting paper and valuable storage space.

Here’s a few things you can do this week to help the earth, your wallet, and your sanity.

1. Call 888-567-8688. Select the option to be permanently removed from mailing lists. Fill out the form they send you and do the same for your adult family members. Congratulations! You should never receive another pre-approved credit card offer again. You’re also less likely to be a victim of identity theft.

2. Visit the customer service sections of all websites that send you catalogs because you signed up yourself. (The opt-out number above doesn’t cover these.) Search for “opt out.” If you can’t find a form, use the live chat or customer service email to politely request that you (or the former resident) be removed from all mailing lists.

3. JUST SAY NO. When a cashier asks for your information, don’t give it unless you visit the store frequently of your own volition. Explain that you would rather live a peaceful life without junk mail, even if you do miss out on that 30% off coupon or that great sale. Think about it–if you had never received a catalog or print ad in your life, how much money would you have saved by refusing to buy things you don’t need? Compare this to 30% off a cardigan every so often…it’s just not worth it.

For stores you visit frequently, look into online coupons that you can load to your member card. Safeway and Fred Meyer, and many other stores, have apps that allow you to load paper-less coupons to your phone. If no options exist, fill out a customer feedback form letting them know you would appreciate these options. Check out the clearance section or outlet store to keep saving without coupons.

So far, my war with junk mail has paid off–I spend less time sorting mail and more time sipping coffee while flipping through the new IKEA catalog (hey, I’m allowed one guilty pleasure, right?). Mmm, modern Swedish design…


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