I am so tired of being buried under piles of mail. Credit card offers, catalogs, and junk mail clutter up my counter and fill the recycling bin with totally unnecessary paper waste, ¾ of which I never even read. As a working parent and homesteader, my time to sort through all of this mail while also trying to stay on top of laundry and the accumulating piles of tomatoes from the garden is limited, and frankly it’s not how I want to spend my time. We’re into voluntary simplicity, not rampant consumerism.
Every once in a while, I refresh my “do not mail” strategies to keep the flow to a minimum. It seems to work for a while, and it doesn’t take too much time, so that’s a win-win in my book. Plus it aligns with our mission to reduce waste.
Here are four ways to decrease mail coming to your mailbox:
Opt out of credit card and insurance offers. Chances are you might have tried in the past to opt out of this kind of mail, only to have it pick up again. Sometimes you just need to do it again, especially if your name or address have changed. Optoutprescreen.com now offers the option to permanently opt out of these mailings (we’ll see how permanent it is in 5 years, but it seems worth a try). Do you own research to see if you trust this organization enough to provide all of your personal information; I decided not to give them my social security number what with all of the breeches we’ve seen lately. In order to opt out permanently, you have to print and mail the form in so there is one extra step but its worth a try.
Opt out of nonprofit mailing lists. I love nonprofits. I run a nonprofit. We give annually to at least ten different organizations. I get that nonprofits have to do fundraising, but I pretty much know who I want to support and I keep in touch with most of these organizations through social media and email. There are certain nonprofits that send me 5-10 mailed requests every year, even one that seems to send 3 envelopes at a time each time I get it. But people who work at nonprofits are often lovely people who don’t want to be perceived as bothering you. Pick up the phone and call a local or national nonprofit and ask them to remove you from their mailing list. You can also send back a return postcard with a note on it asking to be removed, but try calling first so you don’t waste their money on postage. If you still want to keep in touch, tell them you prefer email.
Opt out of catalogs. Sometimes I understand why I get a catalog; it’s from a clothing company I’ve purchased from recently or normally shop with. Sometimes there is no explanation at all for why a catalog on equestrian products or cat lovers appears in my mailbox (no offense, those just aren’t my thing). But you can opt out of these catalogs too. I choose the ones that are most bulky and least likely to apply to me as my starting point and keep opting out until I’m tired of doing it. Just call the phone number or visit their website. If you have an account, you can also usually change your settings to no longer receive catalogs.
Opt out of coupons. I don’t know about you, but I don’t use coupons much. The big stacks of flyers that come in my local “hometown” package is usually for stores I don’t shop and so it immediately goes into the recycling bin. We’re talking 10-15 thick glossy flyers selling mattresses, couches, pizza, and groceries that I try to avoid buying cause we’re not that into consumption. I emailed my local newspaper company to get off of that list, and they were happy to oblige.
It can take some time and effort to get all of these opt-outs in place, but it’s worth going through the process once or twice a year to drastically reduce the paper waste streaming out of your house, not to mention the clutter on the counter before it even gets dealt with