It can be pretty frustrating to sift through piles of junk mail to get to your birthday cards – and even more frustrating when you think of all that wasted paper.
Statistics show we spend a depressing 8 months of our lives opening junk mail; that’s definitely time that could be better spent. Worse still, junk mail comes with a huge environmental impact.
Even if everyone were recycling their junk mail (and let’s be honest, many of us aren’t), think about all the trees and water being used to produce all those pizza flyers. Luckily there are some easy ways to do your bit and stop junk mail thumping on your doormat every day.
Step 1: Always opt out
Yes, we know, reading the small print is dull; but it’s also necessary. Virtually every time you buy something online, donate money or even renew your internet contract you’ll be asked whether you give permission for that company to contact you.
Now, they’ll often phrase it in an elaborate way to try and trick you – some companies say ‘Tick this box if you don’t want to hear from us’, some ‘Tick this box if you want to hear from us’, some ‘Don’t not tick this box if you don’t not want to not hear from us.’ Read it carefully and make sure they don’t have an excuse to bombard you with junk mail.
Step 2: Do it online if you can
This step is less about unsolicited mail, but it is a good step to take to reduce the paper waste. Most banks, utilities companies and other services offer online accounts, billing and statements.
The days of being nervous about online banking are over, guys – in the 21st century it’s actually much safer and will have a huge impact on the amount of paper coming through your letter box.
Step 3: Register with Mail Preference Service
Ever wonder how so much of this unnecessary correspondence is addressed directly to you? Spooky, isn’t it? Luckily, there’s a way to stop this addressed mail. Simply registering with the Mail Preference Service can remove your name from up to 95% of direct mailing lists.
It’s not fool proof (letters addressed to ‘the Occupier’ or anything from abroad will still get through) and takes about 4 months, but it will make a noticeable difference.
Step 4: Door-to-Door Opt-Out
For us, step four was the single most effective way of preventing junk mail; it’s just a shame it’s not more publicised. Royal Mail runs this free service which will stop all unaddressed mail items being delivered by their postmen.
Thankfully, all the endless leaflets will stop! You won’t receive confirmation from the Royal Mail and you’ll have to re-register every two years (without a reminder – so keep track of it!). It’s a bit of a faff, but well worth it.
Step 5: Put a sticker on it
It’s not only the postmen who have to deliver piles of pointless paper – it could also be delivery people. They won’t know if you’re registered with the opt-out scheme so it’s a good idea to order a ‘No Junk Mail’ sticker for your door (or make your own if you want to be creative).
Step 6: Return to sender
This is actually an easier step than you’d think. No need for stamps or trips to the post office, simply write ‘unsolicited mail: return to sender’ under the return address and pop it in the next post box you pass.
Because they have to pay for the return postage, they’ll quickly stop sending that annoying publicity. This is the perfect solution for junk mail that can be difficult to stop, like letters addressed to the previous resident.
OK, now you’ve done all that you can relax knowing that you’re wasting less paper and can get to your birthday cards unhindered!