Stop junk postal mail

I hate junk mail. I've always seen it as extremely wasteful and annoying, but I've lately really started to hate it. Our apartment building was built in better times, times when people didn't get a pound of advertising in their mailbox every day, and the mailboxes reflect that. Today, however, hardly a day goes by when I don't have to forcefully pry a roll of catalogs and circulars with the density of one of those fake fireplace logs out of this 4x4 inch box. I count myself lucky every time I find a new DVD from Netflix that hasn't been completely destroyed by the act of trying to cram it into the mailbox with all the junk.

A couple years ago, shortly after moving to our last place in Berkeley, I opted-out of DMA member mailing lists. That resulted in a noticeable reduction of junk mail but we still got a fair amount. Once we moved into San Francisco last year, though, we were seen as fair game and the deluge began again.

I had been meaning to do the DMA opt-out thing again but hadn't yet gotten around to it when I discovered GreenDimes. At $36/year, GreenDimes is quite a bit more expensive than opting-out from the DMA alone, but they also do a whole lot more. The DMA will take your name off the lists their member companies use, but not everyone uses their lists. GreenDimes will contact not only the DMA but also dozens of other direct mailers and catalog publishers and should therefore be much more effective. The even provide a way to allow particular catalogs you are interested in while stopping the rest, so Sarai can still get stuff from Anthropologie while we tell everyone else to leave us alone. The icing on the cake is that GreenDimes is interested in reducing the amount of junk mail sent for environmental reasons as well as just to prevent annoyance and they use your membership fees to plant trees around the world.

The price is right, and we'll see a very real benefit while doing some good. Sounds like a win-win situation to me. I can't wait to see the results.


Ramsey Fahel says:

Do Not Mail Opt-Out Law would be fair to everyone.

The proposed recent "Do not mail" is an Opt-Out law. Only those not desiring advertising mail need opt-out. Anyone desiring advertising mail can do nothing and continue to receive it. Why deny those wishing to avoid advertising mail the power to do so?

I do not consider handling unwanted advertising placed against my will on my personal property to be a civic obligation!

The US Supreme Court said in the Rowan case in 1970, "In today's [1970] complex society we are inescapably captive audiences for many purposes, but a sufficient measure of individual autonomy must survive to permit every householder to exercise control over unwanted mail. To make the householder the exclusive and final judge of what will cross his threshold undoubtedly has the effect of impeding the flow of ideas, information, and arguments that, ideally, he should receive and consider. Today's merchandising methods, the plethora of mass mailings subsidized by low postal rates, and the growth of the sale of large mailing lists as an industry in itself have changed the mailman from a carrier of primarily private communications, as he was in a more leisurely day, and have made him an adjunct of the mass mailer who sends unsolicited and often unwanted mail into every home. It places no strain on the doctrine of judicial notice to observe that whether measured by pieces or pounds, Everyman's mail today is made up overwhelmingly of material he did not seek from persons he does not know. And all too often it is matter he finds offensive."

Furthermore, the Supreme Court said, "the mailer's right to communicate is circumscribed only by an affirmative act of the addressee giving notice that he wishes no further mailings from that mailer.

To hold less would tend to license a form of trespass and would make hardly more sense than to say that a radio or television viewer may not twist the dial to cut off an offensive or boring communication and thus bar its entering his home. Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit; we see no basis for according the printed word or pictures a different or more preferred status because they are sent by mail."

We need a nationwide "Do Not Mail" law to create a one-stop, convenient place for homeowners to give senders the aforementioned affirmative notice that we do not want certain kinds of mail sent to our homes.

Ramsey A Fahel

Kendra says:

Hi! Thanks for posting about GreenDimes, we really appreciate it. You should certainly start seeing the results of your signing up with us!

GreenDimes is happy to help folks reduce their junk mail by getting them off direct mail lists and unsolicited offers, and opting them out of the catalogs they no longer want (while keeping the catalogs they do want!). AND it's true that GreenDimes plants a tree for every you every month!

We are working on some really exciting new partnerships and ideas that we will share with our members in the next few weeks. Check in to find out what we are up to.



Kenn Christ says:

Hi Kendra, thanks for stopping in. I'll keep an eye on your announcements. Have you thought about adding an RSS feed to your site to make this easier?