Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Waste, waste, waste.

Every day we get junk mail.  Every single day, the junk mail out numbers the useful mail by a long way.  When we are away for an extended period we have someone who comes in to make sure things are all right.  The post is put to one side and kept for us to sort on our return.  This time the pile was 50 cm, 20 inches, high.  The useful part was barely a handful.

It is quite unbelievable how much is being thrown away.  And it's not as though we haven't tried to stop it.  We have catalogues addressed to us, though there's no knowing how they got our address, catalogues addressed to the previous owners, and to the owners before them!  People who have been dead for decades!  Nothing seems to stop the flow.

But it's worse.  Have a look at the picture of today's haul.  There are two of the roughly six reminders to renew a National Geographic subscription even though I've said I don't want it.  Inside each are 4 pieces of paper plus a return envelope.  One piece of paper says, "While all fees support the Society's mission of expanding geographic knowledge, 90% is designated for the magazine subscription".  And how much for waste paper?

Underneath you can see envelopes from two different charities.  At this time of year there is a deluge from charities, who send cards, pens, coins, every sort of gimmick under the sun.  Some of these things are wrapped in plastic. How much does all this cost?   It's not only the cost to the charity, but also the cost to the planet. 

How do I stop the flood of paper?  I've tried "Return to sender", "Gone away", Deceased".  None of it works.  I'm calling in desperation here before I sink!


  1. I guess this culture of junk mail can be found almost everywhere in the world. Over here in Singapore, I am facing the same challenge too. I have been thinking more and more recently the amount of paper that is going to waste. Most of the time this junk mail was not even read and it goes direct to the bin. While I was reading your post, I was asking myself, "Why are people still giving out junk mail?" I can only reach one conclusion, this junk mail strategy must have worked for them, whether they are selling some products, distributing information etc. It is working on the law of large numbers; maybe the 3-4 times they give out the junk mail, they will get someone who will reply.

    Just like the Charities, they mailed out the cards, gimmicks etc in the hope that someone will buy them and use them. Over here, they will request you to send it back to them if we do not want the cards. Some will send it back, some will just be too lazy to do that and just keep the card. Some will of course send them the payment for the cards. This strategy must have worked also and that why the Charities are still doing it. As much as I believe that they need to do some marketing to get the donation, I too do not believe in doing that at the expense of our planet. Hopefully the Charities can find a more effective way of doing it and at least the cards should be printed on recycled paper.

  2. The only thing worse (for me) than junk mail is junk telephone calls.

    The worst is a wine company called Giordano. In spite of repeated requests to remove me from their calling list they have not done so. As a result I shall never buy their wines again.

    Now whenever any company calls and says brightly "Hello my name is Angela (or something) and I am calling from...." I just say "good bye" and hang up.

    At least the paper junk can go in the paper bin (with everything which has my identiy on it shredded.

  3. I send some of the junk mail onto the other junk mail senders and this includes the charities... you can get overwhelmed with the amount of junk post, though mine is getting less as I registered with some service to reduce both post and telephone calls - if I remember what it is I will let you know.

  4. After reading your post I am happy-for once- that the Spanish postal system is not efficient...It's so unreliable that junk mail is almost unexistant! Printed advertisment, however, fills our mailboxes.
    It's one way or another...

  5. Elaine, the telephone calls can be reduced, if not stopped, by the Telephone Preference Service which I use. It really does seem to work.

    Sage, the only postal one I have heard of will only stop the ones that are addressed to "The Occupier" or some such, so if you know of one that stops others I'd be really pleased. The trouble is, they have got hold of real names and the Royal Mail feels obliged to deliver it.

    Mar, I didn't realise the Spanish postal service was so bad. In France we have a small notice on our door saying no ads please, and to my surprise, it works. Or it has done so far. Touch wood. I maybe shouldn't have mentioned that.

  6. Well now, I've just found out that the Telephone Preference Service also runs a Mailing Preference Service. They do caution that you don't cancel without thinking about what you do actually want to receive, because if you normally buy things by mail order, you are liable to cut that off too.

  7. In the UK you can apply to
    Just enter your details and a great seal of the junk will stop.
    Those companies you have applied to may well continue, and previous occupants also (unless you enter their name on MPS!)

    As an ex postman I can tell you RM deliver three junk leaflets a week. RM want to increase this to nine! Junk mail is big money and there will be more not less. It is one of the most successful advertising systems known.

    MPS does work, I have used it myself, but takes a month or two before you see the benefits.

  8. Have you tried writing a lett to the place to remove your from their mailing list?

    For a use for junk mail, my dad used to cut it up an make scratch pads. Here's the link to the post about it and a picture at "My Funny Dad, Harry":

  9. As BK said, it must be worthwhile or they wouldn't be doing it, and confirmed by Adullamite. Doesn't work for me!

    That really depresses me Adullamite, that they are planning a threefold increase in those irritating things. But that's a different system isn't it? It isn't directly addressed.

    Karen, I have written and telephoned with no result. I've now signed up for MPS and hopefully things will improve. I use backs of envelopes as scribbling pads but I don't have enough need (or time) to make them out of the rest of the mailing. Most of the paper is double sided printing as far as I can see so I suppose that's a blessing in a way.

    Really though, what is getting me down is that organisations and charities in particular aren't more concerned about the environmental impact of all this junk.

  10. There is a simple solution to avoid junk telephone calls: answering machine. Since we have the answering machine working ALWAYS I can immediately decide whether I take the call or not. There are NO unwanted calls any more.
    Regarding the junk paper there is hardly any solution. It's an awful fact and unfortunately I haven't found a solution yet that does not cost time and/or money.

  11. It's terrible, my apartment has a bin right by the mailboxes and 90% of what we get goes right in there. What a terrible waste!

  12. Yes the MPS will reduce the addressed mail OK, but it will take a month or two.
    On MPS you can also stop (most) phone calls, but not all will stop. The ansafone is the answer there.

    Your junk will decrease, but leaflets through doors will always be with us.

  13. Hope with signing up with the MPS, the junk mail issue will be more or less solved for you.

  14. @ Elaine
    Having kept my maiden name, I used to say "No thank-you" and put the phone down as soon as anyone said mrs Grouch, you could hear the poor telesales exec's bewilderment. However had to stop that tactic when kids hospital consultant rang back a minute later with "don't put the phone down, are you Daught's Mum?". I was mortified as it was the all-clear we'd been waiting for.

    I used to use junk mail as firelighters, but nowadays the glossy inks make cleaning the glass a beggar. My bugbear is removing the plastic window from envelopes before putting them in the recycling.

  15. You'd think that there'd be less junk mail after e-mail became popular. Unfortunately, now we get both paper junk mail *and* paper-less spam. :S

  16. The problem is pretty bad when you’re 29 and getting solicitations for AARP memberships.

  17. @carla - Don't fret, I SAGA brochures since I was 17, they haven't followed me to France though.

  18. MPS and TPS do help with unsolicited junk, but if you have ever bought anything or enquired about somthing from a company/charity etc. you have in effect given them permission to send you mail in perpetuity or so it seems. It all goes straight to the recycling bin as far as I am concerned.

  19. Here is another idea that I love for those of you who are crafty people! I have this book and wholeheartedly recommend it!

    Creative Correspondence

    It has a section in there on turning junk mail (parts of it anyway) into something you can re-use, so at least it's not completely going to waste. It's really fun and creative. Also, if you get a lot of magazines or catalogs that have pretty photography, consider using those pages and turning THEM into "recyclopes"! Another book in my personal collection is this one:

    The Envelope Mill

    At least I don't get aggravated about the junk as much. Now I try to look at it as an opportunity.

  20. The mpsonline thing worked for me and I get practically no junk mail I'm very pleased to say! Same as the Telephone Preference Service, I only got one call in the last 3 years and as soon as I mentioned it, they couldn't get off the phone fast enough...prosecution is a wonderful thing :)

  21. We signed up to the mps and it has drastically reduced the amount of junk thankfully!

  22. When I was living in L.A. and begged the mail man not to leave stacks of catalogs and junk in the hallway, he told me he couldn't legally do it, because the Postal Service has contracts with these companies, and that's how they actually make money. Not with regular mail.

    Even if I did recycle the paper, it was still painful to think of all the ink and environmental pollution created by all this.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin