We've often heard the saying, "One person's junk is another person's treasure." In the case of junk mail, this isn't the case. Have you ever considered the impact junk mail has on the environment?

Following are some eye opening facts:

  • Junk mail consumes more than 100 million trees annually.
  • Over 25 billion gallons of water is used to create or recycle junk mail.
  • Over 60 billion pieces are created annually.
  • Over 40% of unopened junk mail end up in our landfills.
  • Junk mail uses the energy equivalent to run over 2 million vehicles
  • Junk mail is the majority of a normal household's waste paper.
  • Each of us receives an average of 16 pieces of junk mail to only 1.5 pieces of personal correspondence weekly.
  • Over 30% of the solid mass in our landfills is paper waste.

In all fairness, the industry has recognized its impact on the environment and is taking measures to help. One example is the Forest Stewardship Council www.fsc.org . They created this organization in response to global deforestation by promoting responsible forest management worldwide. When you see the FSC label on products, you can be assured that the paper comes from a well-managed forest. Sustainable Forestry Initiative is another organization who supports improving sustainable forest initiatives. www.sfiproram.org .

Junk Mail
Credit: cogdogblog via Flickr

These programs help but to really impact the the environment, each of us need to reduce or eliminate the amount of junk mail that finds its way to our mailboxes. So how can we stop the junk mail madness?

Following are some tips you can use:

  • Credit Card offers have significantly been reduced due to tighter credit. However, you can opt-out of these offers by calling 1-888-5optout or go to their website at www.optoutprescreen.com . Experian, TransUnion and Equifax, offers this service to process opt-out offers from credit card and insurance companies for at least five years.
  • Catalogs are another source of our junk mail dilemma. They increase significantly around major holidays. You can contact each company requesting your address be removed from their mail list. This can be done by e-mail. Contact information is readily available on the company's website.
  • Direct mail offers can be reduced significantly by visiting www.dmachoice.org . The Direct Marketing Association has over 5,000 member companies marketing directly to you. Your request to stop receiving mailings is processed by them. They in turn, notify their members to remove your address from their mail lists. It can take up to six months to see results.
  • Coupon packs received from Valpak can be stopped by filling out the form located online at www.coxtarget.com/mailsuppression/s/DisplayMailSuppressionForm .
  • Occupant or resident mailings offer a variety of products for sale. If you don't wish to receive these types of mailings, you can contact Valassis through the form online at www.valassis.com/1024/Contact/MailingListRemoval.aspx .

Opting out of these offers will help reduce clutter in your mail box and in our landfills.