As you know, I'm on vacation this week and am putting up old posts and other people's wise words. This is one of my own, from February, that I thought might be helpful to new visitors to No Impact Man. Note that since I wrote this post and tried the methods within, I find I'm still getting junk mail. So I've added one more tool (see point number 5 below).
It’s two months since I began the no impact man stage concerned with stopping trash, but my recycling bin is still filling up with paper I never bought, never used, and never wanted. The junk mail pours in.
Five years ago, I bought my step-mother Beth some flower bulbs. The company has sent me two catalogs a year ever since. The product pushers discovered that Isabella was born but not that she has since aged two years, so we get piles of completely useless baby wear catalogs.
Do I ever look at these bundles of the coagulated flesh of dead trees? Uh, no. Do you?
According to the Native Forest Network guide to stopping junk mail, 100 million trees are ground up each year to make junk mail. Um, didn’t somebody mention that tearing down trees is contributing to global warming?
All in the interests of our economy—right?—except that 44 percent of junk mail gets trashed without ever being opened. Together with other types of paper and paperboard waste, the junk mail adds up to 40% of the solid waste in our landfills.
So here’s what I’m doing to stop the tree killers and keep their trash out of my bin:
1. All the junk mail, including that with plastic windows in the envelopes, goes in the recycling bin. For a guide to recycling in your community, go here.
2. I got my name off the credit card and insurance offer lists by going to the credit bureaus’ centralized service for opting out.
3. I spent a dollar—swear to God, that’s the price—to sign onto the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service, which reportedly will reduce my junk mail by 75%.
4. I began calling the 800 number on the catalogs and asking them to take me off their lists5. Since I first wrote this post in February, my junk mail has reduced but not minimized. I'm now going to try a paid service called Green Dimes, which promises to get rid of junk mail for $36 a year (one green dime a day). If Green Dimes does what it claims, parting with the cash means you don't have to take all the steps above (except recycling, of course!), because Green Dimes does it for you.
Meanwhile, a couple of websites tell you how to make your own recycled paper from junk mail, but well, I’m too busy baking bread from local wheat and washing Isabella’s locally-grown, organic cotton diapers. God save me, please, from myself and this crazy project.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.