Change the World Wednesday: Eliminating Junk Mail


Welcome back to our weekly challenge from Reduce Footprints.  This week the challenge is to reduce our junk mail.  Junk mail is a big problem from the trees cut down to make the paper, the chemicals and water used to make pulp from the wood, and then the environmental costs associated with shipping and delivering what we frustratingly see as junk and don’t want.

Here’s what Small Footprints has to suggest for this week:


This week, eliminate junk mail from your life. Here are suggested ways to do so:

  1. Register with the National Do Not Mail List. If you live outside the US, search the Internet using the words “mail preference service” followed by your country.
  2. Register with TrustedID Mail Preference Service (aka Catalog Choice) to discontinue receiving catalogs, credit card offers, etc. Alternately, write to and/or email companies and request that you be removed from their catalog mailing list.
  3. Avoid placing your address on surveys, raffles, and product warranty cards.
  4. Contact your county tax department and ask about making your personal information private.
  5. Before doing business with a company, especially online, ask about how they use your information and request that personal information be kept private and never sold.
  6. Put a sign on your mailbox which says “No junk mail” or “No free papers”. In the US, since it is illegal for anyone, other than the letter carrier, to put mail in your box, a sign won’t work … they’ll deliver junk mail if it has your address on the label. Americans will need to remove their addresses at the source.
  7. If you’ve recently moved, re-register with “opt out” services (see items 1 and 2 above). Mail preferences are for specific addresses rather than names so if you move, you’ll have to start from scratch and re-register your new address.
  8. Did you know that Consumer Credit Reporting Companies are permitted to include your name on lists which are made available to other companies? Use to stop receiving credit and insurances offers.
  9. Tired of receiving cash advance checks, in the mail, from your credit card company? Call them and ask that they stop sending cash advance checks to you.
  10. When all else fails, recycle junk mail (if you live in an apartment or your mailbox is located near other mailboxes, place a junk mail recycling bin nearby to encourage everyone to recycle).



Small couldn’t have picked a better week to take on this problem. While I have reduced most of my junk mail by calling each company directly to get them to stop, there are still those dreaded Red Plum Flyers.  I have tried repeatedly to stop these but to no avail.  What I learned from my local post office (on condition I didn’t tell who told me this) is that the Red Plum flyers are near impossible to stop coming because the delivery of these is one of the biggest income producing mailings for the postal service.  Since the service is operating at a financial loss yearly, they {the post office} isn’t interested in helping us to stop this from being delivered to our homes.  But I have found a use for them.

I dug up this area Monday to remove all the roots of weeds, then laid the flyers down before adding fresh soil.  These are the lamb's ears I bought Saturday. They will spread and fill the entire area in a year or two.

I dug up this area Monday to remove all the roots of weeds, then laid the flyers down before adding fresh soil. These are the lamb’s ears I bought Saturday. They will spread and fill the entire area in a year or two.

In my apartment building these Red Plum flyers are stacked on a shelf under our mailboxes.  No one takes them so after a few days I collect them and use them as weed block in the gardens. (Cardboard also works wonderfully). Unlike weed blocking fabric, with the paper and cardboard they decompose over time and improve the health of the soil underneath them.

You can see a couple dandelions in this bed. I created this bed with the flyers as weed block two summers ago. The hosta are thriving and I would say the dandelions came from the seed blowing rather than growing up from underneath.

You can see a couple of dandelions in this bed. I created this bed with the flyers as weed block two summers ago. The hosta are thriving and I would say the dandelions came from the seed blowing rather than growing up from underneath.


I found the easiest way to eliminate junk mail, such as credit card offers and the like, is to not use any of them. I have no credit cards and pay cash for almost everything, with the exception of online purchases which I usually use PayPal for an added layer of protection.

By not having monthly payments on things I’ve bought it is as close as I can get to being anonymous to marketers.

Do you have a problem with junk mail?  If not how did you solve the issue?


Don’t forget you can still download free copies of three books until Thursday.

  1. Finding Grace by Kathy Gottberg from SmartLiving365
  2. Confessions by Justin D. Russell from Writings of Justin D. Russell
  3. And finally my recently published book:  Memories and Recipes from Grandmother’s Kitchen: Family favorite desserts.




29 thoughts on “Change the World Wednesday: Eliminating Junk Mail

  1. Great post Lois. All good information to keep on file. I’m heading towards my very last move but it seems most of the junk mail can’t find me. Moving alot has some perks. Our complex has large bins next to the mailboxes exclusively for junk mail. If it has my name on it, it comes home to be removed before recycling. Nice to know about those red plum ads. Maybe I’ll start saving them for the garden I may have.:)


    • Marlene, yes, that is one good aspect of moving. ;-) I too moved around a lot when I was younger and noticed you need to stay put longer to have your new address spread to advertisers.

      As for the red plum ads just don’t use them around edible plants, but great for ornamental landscaping.


  2. lots of inks, these days, are made non toxic/ with vegetable dyes. guess one would have to call the company printing and ask.


  3. I have had good success with using newspaper and cardboard as weed block. However, as Cynthia suggested, I try not to use the colored ones around food. I don’t know how much difference it makes, but I it doesn’t hurt.


    • Live and Learn, I made arrangements with the neighboring ACL lab to leave their cardboard for me all winter so I have a decent pile waiting to be laid down in the edible areas of my garden. It makes more sense to use paper and cardboard than to buy weed barriers which are of dubious materials.


  4. I like the idea of a do not mail list – I don’t think we have it available here. We have a do not call list though and it does work pretty well. For all the paper though, we are stuck with receiving and recycling.

    Your gardens are looking good. I love lambs ears – and so did the kids when they were little. They loved to touch the leaves.


    • Heidi, the hardest piece of junk mail I had stopping was for a local car dealership. When I called the dealership I got the run around that they hired a marketing firm to handle their mailers and said they didn’t know the name of the firm when I asked for their information to contact them directly. I finally save a stack of them from one month and took them back to their office (from each of my neighbors) and dropped it on the secretaries desk informing her that if they didn’t stop delivering to these addresses we were planning on spreading the word that they were not a firm one should do business with. It stopped. :-)

      Do you still have lamb’s ears? The leaves are soft and my grandchildren still keep touching them. I let them plant them so they are acting like the plants belong to them. That’s fine with me. :-)


  5. I’ve read it’s okay to use black and white newsprint on vegetables, but colored ink is toxic and toxins are taken up by edible plants. The Red Plum flyers should probably go around landscaping plants only.
    Thanks for the tips. I’ll be working on #9 today!


    • I’m sorry I should have mentioned I don’t use newspaper with colored ink in the veggie or fruit gardens only around plants that won’t be eaten.

      For my edible garden I toss down dead branches from the trees, cut into smaller pieces but a chipper would work best, then sprinkle hydrated lime. I follow that with cardboard then fill the bed with top soil/potting soil and compost I make. Then it’s ready to add plants.

      The nice thing about paper or cardboard is that as it breaks down you can dig a hole through it to add more plants without destroying your weed block.


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