Direct mail hell 2


To say that junk mail is a pet peeve of mine is way underselling it. People who leave their grocery carts all over the parking lot, loud-talking on cell phones in public, assault by cologne…all annoying, but junk mail comes to my home, unrequested and unwanted, and I have to deal with it. All. The. Time. Imagine if once a day, almost every day, some guy walked up to you on the street, plunked a banana peel in your hand and walked away.

Exactly. So I’m going to tell you how to ditch the junk mail. And not just the catalogs either, which are the cause of death of an estimated 53 million trees per year for Americans alone, but also those super-annoying wads of individual circulars we get at least once a week.

First the catalogs. The average American household gets about 88 catalogs a year. Not only do they represent the corpses of a whooole bunch of trees that could have been happily absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere, their printing and transportation use loads of energy (read: oil). Plus, a whole bunch of toxic chemicals are used in the printing process that you really don’t want floating around in the air you breath or present in your drinking water. Fun fact: One of them can also be used to break open red blood cells, ‘cause that sounds like a good idea. Besides, how many of those catalogs do you even ask for? Take a look at this:

I ordered exactly once from the websites of two of those companies. So where’d the other five catalogs come from? That damn banana guy again!

So save yourself a lot of time, aggravation, and space in your recycling bin. (You are at least recycling that junk mail, right?) Go to one of the many sites that will work on getting you off of mailing lists, create a free account and start choosing catalogs to ditch. My favorite site is Catalog Choice, but there are others. There are even some services with paid accounts, but I’ve never found a need for them.

You may occasionally find that one of the catalogs you want to unsubscribe from doesn’t appear on those subscription choice sites. That’s what happened with one of those seven from my latest batch. The company’s website will often have a way to remove yourself from its mailing list. If not, use the contact info. to get in touch with the company and tell them to remove you.

So why is The Organic Adventurer having to do this? Shouldn’t her mailbox be gloriously free of catalog clutter already? Yeah, that’s the thing. If you ever order anything from a company that mails out catalogs or if you ever order anything online…or sometimes for no apparent reason at all, you’re going to get on somebody’s list who sells their list to somebody else. So, unfortunately, this is not going to be a one-time process for most of us. How often you’ll have to do it depends on how quickly you get yourself back on mailing lists. The good news is that the whole process only takes about 10 minutes, and that includes circulars.

Speaking of circulars, in some ways they’re even more annoying than catalogs. I mean, God forbid you should drop that bundle in the driveway on a windy day! The worst, because they’re the most widely distributed, are RedPlum and ValPak.

Go to RedPlum’s Mail Subscription Preferences page to remove yourself from their mailing list. When I visited ValPak’s page, the link to request removal from their mailing list was broken, but a brief email to customer service got an almost immediate response.

Similarly, you can Google the name of just about any circular distribution company along with “remove from mailing list” and you’ll likely find instructions.

Finally, Epsilon, a huge global marketing company, maintains a database called Abacus (I know; it all sounds very Da Vinci Code, doesn’t it?) that’s used by just about everybody with a catalog to distribute. Supposedly, emailing privacy@epsilon.com and requesting to be removed from their direct mail database will get you out of a ton of junk mail, but I’ve not gotten a response from my requests, so who knows if it works or if that email just goes to some crazy-eyed guy laughing maniacally while he slowly peels a banana.

So how about you? What’s your biggest eco pet peeve? Comment below! Or if it’s something more involved that you’d like a helpful consultation about, contact us; we’d love to hear from you!

UPDATE: I DID get an email back from Epsilon about 5 days after this post. Way to go, Bananaman!


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2 thoughts on “Direct mail hell

  • Dawn

    Awesome post! I can’t wait to get home and get myself off the lists! Many times we’re annoyed but don’t stop and think, how can I stop this?
    Biggest eco pet peeve….disregard for the amount of plastic and styrofoam produced, used and thrown away after one use. Food wrappers, kids’s toys (aka CRAP), ziplocks, grocery bags, packaging, utensils, pens, caps, take out containers, cups….ok I’ll stop there. ARG!!!!

    • The Organic Adventurer Post author

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Dawn! It’s true, people have a lot of reasons for not following through with solutions. That’s why we offer consultations! Don’t have 10 minutes to unsubscribe yourself? We’ll do it for you! Too much plastic in your kitchen to know where to start? We’ll be your pare-down & replace buddy! And I could NOT agree more about the waste, junk, crap, pollutants people take for granted, as if there really is an “away” where all that stuff goes! One person at a time, we try to educate people about it and show them, if nothing else, how much MONEY they’d save by not buying all that throwaway stuff! Glad you’re here 🙂