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opting out of junk mail

Getting away from junk mail has been a life-long quest for me that has been on the back burner up until now. It has always seemed like an impossible battle to fight the steady stream of paper nonsense flowing to our mail box on a daily basis. Remember how I mentioned my low tension level in my last post? Well, here’s another thing raising it. I suppose you could sum up the cause of my anxiety in one word: junk. I don’t have it, and I don’t want it. When you are as into recycling and not wasting paper as I am, the very idea that someone is going to send you vast quantities of paper you don’t want is some kind of cruel joke.

With this move to Boston, I decided to start with a clean slate and fight junk mail as it happens. I WILL CLAIM VICTORY! I owe my first glimmer of hope to some friends who recently moved across the country. Because they didn’t know their new permanent address when they needed to begin having mail sent, they opted for a temporary PO Box. Eureka! Behold step one in Justine’s plan of attack: when you move, forward mail to a PO Box instead of your house to foil the current junk mail senders. This decision requires you to update addresses manually for mail you regularly need (like your insurance and bills), but trust me when I say it’s completely worth it to help stop your unwanted mail from following you.

Step two also came to me somewhat accidentally. A non-profit organization I had discovered years ago recently sent me an email requesting me to update my information. When I first heard about Catalog Choice, they did little except stop some catalogs from coming in the mail…which was useful to me when I desperately needed to kill the Victoria’s Secret onslaught. I had completely forgotten about CC, but I decided on a whim to log in to my account and see if they had updated their services. Boy have they ever! For a small donation of $20/year, they will assist you to opt out of unwanted mail. This fee has been worth its weight in gold.

The third step is one that everyone should know about, but somehow I missed the memo. The Federal Trade Commission runs a phone number (888-5-OPT-OUT) that allows you to stop the credit bureaus and other companies from sharing your information for promotional purposes. The free call will take you about 3 minutes and will stop mail for five years. Oh so worth it!

Unfortunately one of the most annoying types of junk mail we receive has become requests for philanthropic donations. Save the wildlife, save the people with lupus, save the children. Phew! It’s exhausting, and if we gave every time we got a request, we would have gone broke a long time ago. We’ve gotten more address labels than we could ever use, and I spent far too much time digging through envelopes to remove nickles stuck to the paper. And so my final step is really more of a side-step: if you want to donate to organizations like these, rather than donating via check, I recommend donating online if you can somehow avoid providing your address.


I am happy to report that because of these four easy steps, we no longer receive ANY junk mail! Our PO Box is another story, so I look forward to canceling it. Goodbye junk.