habit shift: junk mail.

Junk mail seems to come on autopilot if you’re not vigilant. I’m once again ramping up my efforts to reduce the amount of wasteful paper that comes into my home. We originally decided to put an end to the paper that streams through our front door about two to three years ago. We were exhausted by the volume of newspapers, flyers, and solicitors that were coming our way. My solution was to laminate a piece of paper that was half a sheet of paper wide and in the biggest possible letters “No Newspapers, Flyers or Solicitors.” Robert didn’t like it. We put it up anyways, it was huge and not pretty, but I didn’t get crap mail anymore. You could see the sign from the sidewalk.

Unfortunately, duck tape doesn’t last forever and I came home one day to my sign missing. Since then we have replaced my large, gnarley sign with an itsy, bitsy, little sign. And we get newspapers now. Solicitors, junk mail, all sorts of wasteful things I have been taking for granted I don’t have to deal with.

The pollution of spam mail and newspapers are terrible, here is some data*:

  • Environment Canada reports that landfills account for about 20% of Canada’s methane gas emissions. 
  • According to Statistics Canada, 83% of households recycle paper (2006). Although vast improvements have been made in the quality of recycling programs over the last decade, many people still don’t recycle their admail.

I have since realized, that originally I had not dealt with the root of the problem, stopping the senders from sending. Aside from displaying an obnoxious sign scaring anyone who comes close to your front door, and actually fixing the problem at its root – how to stop the flow from even starting:

  1. Stop giving out your postal code at the till. Not always a sign of mail to come, but it can be.
  2. Get mail you actually need to be sent via email. This saves so much paper it isn’t even funny.
  3. Get yourself on the “Do Not Contact” lists. Many, many, many small businesses are still using direct marketing mailing lists and will send you whatever they got going on. Here is a link with information.

It’s definitely better to stop the process before they even have your address. The more people that remove themselves from the equation, the less profitable (and sustainable) direct marketing and paper-creation will be. Putting up a sign like I did (and will continue) doesn’t get my name out of the game.

Have you got some good tips I missed?

*Numbers from Canada Post

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