5 Ways to Opt Out of Junk Mail (and Save the Planet in the Process)

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"I don't remember the last time I sent a letter, so why am I getting all these letters that could very well be replaced by an email? Here's what you can do to never get junk mail again."

Let’s be real: Junk mail is barely ever opened. That’s why we call it junk, right? Whether it’s in our email inbox or in our mailbox, it’s a nuisance. And certainly the opposite of the minimalist’s dream considering adults receive an average of 41 pounds of junk mail per year.

According to the New York Times, 44 percent of junk mail heads straight to landfills without ever being read. Unfortunately, the most care and attention junk mail gets is probably during production, where it emits more than 50 million tons of greenhouse gasses annually. Yikes.

While most mailers can try to minimize their carbon footprint by using recycled paper, there are options you can take as a consumer to opt out of junk mail so you never receive it again. The process isn’t always easy—especially because these mailers share contact info with other companies who may not be getting that opt-out request. But following these methods will help save the planet and your sanity.

person showing white envelope

5 Ways to Opt Out of Junk Mail

1. Go Directly to the Source to Opt-Out Individually

If you’re seeing catalogs and pieces of mail from the same company over and over again, head to their website and find their opt-out link (hint: it’s usually in the footer of the website’s navigation). A few common places to check first are ShareLocalMedia, Valpak, and Save.com.

2. Sign Up for DMAchoice to Stop Junk Mail for Decades

DMAchoice is a nonprofit dedicated to making sure you’re only getting the mail you want. While there’s a $2 processing fee, it’s more than worth it because it lasts for 10 years. When you do the math, that fee—which is way less than a Starbucks drink, BTW—will keep 410 pounds of junk mail out of your mailbox.

You can also use this option to stop receiving mail for a loved one who has passed, or if you’re a caregiver who doesn’t want to receive mail for someone you take care of.

3. Take the Reigns of Your Credit and Insurance Mail

Another way to opt out of junk mail is to use OptOut Prescreen, the official site for letting all things credit and insurance know you’re not into receiving paper mail any longer. It’s free, and it’s quick—so share it with your friends who will appreciate it as well.

4. Have a Website Aggregator Send Opt-Out Requests for You

Still receiving a catalog from a company you only ordered from once? Catalog Choice is here to help. The nonprofit has the database, and you have the name of the catalog you want to stop receiving physical mail from. What happens next is mind-blowingly simple but will save you so much time (and the planet so many natural resources): It personally sends an opt-out request on your behalf.

5. Get Your Billing Statements Electronically

There’s usually a quick button to press on your online account—be it for your electricity bill, student loan bill, water bill, or more—to go green and stop receiving snail mail. If not, give your biller a call. They won’t mind putting you on a paperless, email-only list.

A Greener Future

If we’re going to cut down trees, let’s make sure they get put to good use. It’s 2021, and with nearly everything going digital, our world is ready to stop wasting paper and natural resources. Recycle or compost that junk mail you already have. Hopefully, you’ll never have to see another wasted envelope again.

Curious about a zero waste lifestyle? Want to know what the “circular economy” really means? Subscribe to Brightly’s top-rated podcast, Good Together. Every 30-minute episode features daily, actionable tips to help you live your life more sustainably.

I don't remember the last time I sent a letter, so why am I getting all these letters that could very well be replaced by an email? Here's what you can do to never get junk mail again.

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