Reduce Junk Mail

Free up your mailbox and recycling cart!

The average American household receives more than 60 pounds of unwanted mail each year. Although nearly all mail can be recycled, it takes raw materials to produce the mail and energy to send it around the country. It takes about 100 million trees and 38 billion gallons of water to produce one year’s worth of junk mail in the U.S., according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Junk mail is not only a waste of natural resources; it’s also a waste of time. People spend five minutes per day on average sorting through and getting rid of unwanted mail.

More reasons to stop junk mail!

  • Hassle: You spend 30 hours each year just handling junk mail (five minutes per day).
  • Energy: One day’s supply of junk mail contains the energy to heat 250,000 homes.
  • Waste: 5.8 million tons.

To reduce the amount of unwanted mail you receive:

  • Get your name off of credit card offers, mass mailing lists, national marketing mailers, and catalogs.

ü  The Direct Marketing Association offers consumers and households a way to ask mail order companies to remove their names from mail lists. Be sure to provide all the various spellings and address versions that you want removed from mail lists. Your name will remain on the do-not-mail list for five years, but you can renew at any time.

ü  Go to the website: or call 1-888-567-8688 to reduce the amount of credit card offers you get.

ü  Mailbox Values (Red Plum), go to their website—click on Contact Us, then the Add/Remove button.

ü  ValPak , go to their website, click on Contact Us—fill out form and ask to be removed from list. Or call 1-800-237-6266

  • Contact companies directly and ask for your name to be taken off their mailing list. Company contact information can usually be found on the junk mail item. Call them or send a postcard. Tell them you want your name removed from their list. Include any customer identification number found on the shipping label.
  • Opt out of receiving phone books by contacting the distributor. Remember to recycle any phone books you have at home that you no longer want.
  • Online bill pay—sign up and switch to paperless statements.
  • Recycle the mail you still receive. You can recycle magazines, catalogs, envelopes, letters, paper inserts and coupon advertisements. Make sure you remove all non-paper items. 

For confidential mail items, shred paper and place it in a paper bag for recycling. Staple the bag shut and label it “shredded paper” before placing it in your recycling cart.

  • Contact your local post office for forms to stop mail of former residents, if applicable

 Keep junk mail from coming back.

  • Mailers sell and rent names. Whenever you supply your name and address (warranty card, subscriptions, contests, etc) ask to be placed on a do-not-mail list.
  • By limiting the circulation of your personal information, you’re also securing your identity. You can often politely decline to give out sensitive information.

Recycle what you have.

  • Shredded mail can be recycled. If you shred personal documents to protect yourself from theft, put the material in a paper bag (staple it closed) and place it with your other recyclables

Handling unwanted mail at work

Unwanted mail at work can account for a lot of waste. It fills up recycling bins (or ouch, garbage dumpsters!!), and needs to be delivered, sorted, and routed, all a waste of time and labor.

Reducing unwanted mail at your company or office is more complicated. The Mail Preference Service will not help businesses or organizations. Though there are no groups to help organizations and their employees reduce their waste from unwanted mail, there are some waste reduction actions that can be taken in the workplace:

  • Ask for cooperation. Business-to-business mail is intended to generate income and solicit new business. When you get catalogs, advertising flyers, or offers from companies that you will not do business with, ask them to remove you from their list.
  • Control your exposure. Data for mail lists is collected from many sources — purchases, conference registrations, websites, business cards. Make it clear that you want to control this sharing of your information. Include a statement about preventing waste and protecting privacy on items like purchase orders, registrations for classes and conferences, and subscriptions.
  • Practice good mail list etiquette. If your organization maintains databases or mail lists, be protective of your clients. Be very selective about how you use data, and offer your clients the option to request their information not be shared with others.  
  • Keep your mail lists up-to-date. You waste money and time mailing materials to addresses that are no longer valid.