Scroll To Top
Global Stewards - Green Eco Tips for Sustainable Living

Stop Junk Mail at Home and Work (and switch the rest to paperless!)


Stop Personal Junk Mail (and switch the rest to paperless!)

  1. Stack of JunkmailSet a goal of ZERO mail! Many service providers and local utilities now offer paperless/email invoicing setup through their website. Also, consider options for automatic monthly payments from your credit card or bank and/or online bill pay through your bank to eliminate outgoing mail.
  2. Contact the Direct Marketing Association to be removed from many companies' mass marketing mailing lists for up to five years.
  3. Create a place to store all unwanted mail. Once a month, email or call the companies and ask to be removed from their mailing lists (toll-free area codes are 800, 888, 877, or 866). This is the most effective way to get off mailing lists. If there isn't an email or phone number but there is a postage-paid return envelope, tear off the mailing label and enclose it in the envelope along with a request to be removed from their mailing list. Mark envelope "ATTN: Customer Service".
  4. Another approach for stopping mailings: if you see the phrases "return service requested", "forwarding service requested", "address service requested", or "change service requested", write "refused, returned to sender" on the unopened envelope. Mail sent to "Resident," "Current Resident," or "Current Occupant" can also be refused if it contains one of the above endorsements, or is sent First Class.  
  5. To stop receiving unsolicited credit card and other credit related offers, opt out permanently at or by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT. Learn more via the Federal Trade Commission.
  6. You can ask online to be removed from the following direct marketers: Val-Pak Coupons and Valassis. For Epsilon Data Services (Abacus Cooperative Databases), send an email with the word "remove" in the subject line and provide the name and address used in their mailings. To stop delivery of the Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer, go to their Subscribe page, scroll down and click on "Unsubscribe me from the printed Fearless Flyer"
  7. In loose-leaf advertising fliers, look for opt-out information on the flier or on a separate postcard.
  8. Opt Out of Yellow Pages Delivery To stop delivery of yellow pages, look for instructions near the front of the book. You can opt out online from receiving your local Yellow Pages.
  9. Your credit card company probably sells your name the most often. Call and ask them to stop. Also make the same request of your bank and any other companies from which you purchase products or services on a regular basis (for example, companies who sell you magazines, phone service, and gas & electric services).
  10. When visiting family members or friends, offer to help get them off mailing lists.
  11. Product warranty cards are often used to collect information on your habits and income, for the sole purpose of targeting direct mail. They are not required in most situations - avoid sending them.
  12. Avoid filling out "Contest" cards – these are almost always fishing expeditions for names.
  13. Whenever you donate money or order a product or service, write in large letters: "Please do not sell my name or address". Most organizations will properly mark your name in their computer.
  14. Switch to online news and magazines.
  15. If you would like help with reducing your junk mail, check out organizations like Catalog Choice, PaperKarma, and
  16. To have someone else handle cancelling paying accounts such as AOL or L.A. Fitness, you can hire CancelWizard.


Stop Business Junk Mail

Junk mail flowing into your business doesn't just harm the environment - it can add up to a lot of wasted time and money for employees to handle and recycle unwanted mail.

  1. If possible, assign one person the task of reducing all unwanted mail - this will streamline the process. Suggestions for getting off mailing lists:
    • Announce the mail reduction program to the entire company along with instructions on how employees can help out (see Step 3). Post informational posters and/or periodically send out reminders to encourage continued support for the program. Explain your mail reduction program to all new employees.
    • Put out clearly marked collection boxes near the mail slots for each department and ask employees to place all mail and faxes they no longer want to receive into these containers. If only name corrections are needed, ask them to note the corrections on the mailings.
    • Contact the following source of business-to-business mailing lists and ask to be removed from their list: Dun & Bradstreet: phone Customer Resource Center, 1-800-333-0505 or send an e-mail to:
    • If your company receives multiple subscriptions to the same publications/newspapers, minimize subscriptions (i.e., one per department) and donate old publications/newspapers to local libraries, schools, hospitals, or nursing homes. Switch to online/emailed subscriptions wherever possible.
    • How to request removal from different types of unwanted mailing lists:
      • Take advantage of emails, toll-free or local fax or phone numbers and any enclosed postage-paid envelopes or postcards (tape your address to the postcard with a request to be removed from the mailing list). Toll-free area codes are 800, 888, 877, or 866.
      • For first-class mailings or mail marked either "Return Service Requested" or "Change Service Requested", cross out your name and address and the bar code, write or stamp "refused: return to sender", and give back to the mail carrier.
      • For bulk-rate mail without a fax number or postage-paid return mailer, remove and save the page with both your address and the sender's address and recycle the remaining paper. Group unwanted mail from the same sender together. Periodically, mail pre-printed postcards (see Step 2) or letters to all senders.
      • If desired, request that all listings for your company be removed.
    • To promote recycling of all paper, provide plenty of clearly marked recycling containers throughout the company (including at employees' desks).
  2. Create a model postcard to send to businesses requesting removal from their mailing list:
    • Design a multi-use postcard:
      • At the top of the card, leave a space to tape the address label. You can say: "TAPE ADDRESS HERE." It is important to have the address (that you want deleted) taped to the top of the card (vs. the middle or bottom) to avoid confusion at the post office.
      • Print a series of check-off boxes:
        • "Delete Address." Below that, if you like, you can have smaller check-off boxes that say, "Info not wanted," "Person no longer here," "Person unknown," "Address Insufficient" or "Other"
        • "Do NOT place my address on any mailing lists"
        • "Please keep sending mailing, but change info to:" (then leave spaces for name, title, organization, and address)
  3. Ask your employees for help in reducing unwanted mail by:
    • Making sure all personal items are delivered to their homes
    • Depositing all unwanted mail and faxes into collection boxes
    • Asking businesses they deal with to not sell or trade your company's mailing information
    • Whenever possible, only providing other businesses your company's name, phone, and e-mail, but no physical address (including if they enter contests or drawings)
  4. If no one is available to run the mail reduction program, ask employees to do the work to get off mailing lists. Provide preprinted postcards/letters along with easy-to-follow instructions.
  5. When your company registers for classes or conferences, purchases products or services, and/or orders subscriptions, include a request to not have your company's mailing information distributed to other vendors. This could be standardized as a memo, a pre-printed comment on documents, or a stamp. One idea: create a standard form for registrations for subscriptions, conferences, events, training classes, etc. Include the message "Please do not share this name or address through mailing list sales or trades" at the bottom.
  6. Ask your receptionist to only provide your company's address to callers with a legitimate reason for seeking such information.
  7. If you send direct mail, clean up your own mailing lists. Suggestions:
    • Consolidate mailing lists into one computer database and delete duplicate listings
    • Send customers who receive multiple mailings a list of their recipient employees and ask them to cross off names of employees who have left or relocated
    • Label all direct mail as "Return Postage Guaranteed"
    • On every mailing you send out, print easy "opt out" instructions in a visible place on the mailing
    • To delete names from your mailing list, set up and maintain a system that can handle both returned mail and phoned-in requests for removal


Stopping Other Types of Advertising

  1. In the U.S., opt out of receiving solicitations via home or cell phone through the National Do Not Call Registry.
  2. Opt out of many online targeted advertising (browser specific) through the Digital Advertising Alliance's (DAA) Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising (click on the Exercise Your Choice link - repeat for every browser you use (i.e., Internet Explorer, Firefox)).

Junk Mail = Habitat Loss, Species Extinction and Climate Change

Every 41 pounds of junkmail destroys 36.6 square meters of natural habitat and creates 47.6 kilograms (105 Pounds) of CO2 emissions.

100 million trees and 28 billion gallons of water were used to produce U.S. mail for just one year
In 2005 over 114 billion pieces of bulk advertising mail were sent out in the U.S. (a 15% increase from 2000)
The average adult spends 70 hours a year dealing with junk mail.

Phone books use an estimated 4.68 million trees worth of wood fiber, or 14 football fields’ worth of forest per day. They are also a burden on local governments, who pay nearly $60 million annually to recycle or dispose of unwanted phone books (source).

250,000 homes could be heated for a single day's junkmail
The world's temperate forests absorb 2 billion tons of carbon annually to help keep the planet cool and healthy. These forests are needed to reduce climate change.
Junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 2.8 million cars.
55% of all paper fibers come from trees (17% of this is from old-growth forests).
23 million acres of forest area was lost worldwide between 1990 and 2000
Nearly 4 billion trees worldwide are cut down each year for paper, representing about 35 percent of all harvested trees.
Habitat loss is one of the main causes of animal and plant extinction
An estimated 25% of the 5 million species on our planet are faced with extinction by 2050. Roughly 1 every 20 minutes becomes extinct at the current rate (Conservation International).
Recycling is great but it won't bring back an extinct species
44% of all U.S. mail is discarded unopened equaling 4 million tons of waste of paper per year. Only 32% is recycled.
Encourage others to stop junk mail via email or by creating a flyer and distributing it in your community. You may be able to set out copies for the public at your local libraries, booths at fairs or farmers' markets, and health food stores or restaurants. Also, ask at your local post office if you can leave them copies of the flyer for distribution to interested postal customers.