One way to save money, the environment, and journalism

I subscribe to The Nation, The American Prospect, Harper’s, Mother Jones, and The New Yorker.

In addition, I belong to various progressive advocacy groups.

So it seems like almost every I get letters in U.S. mail asking me to renew my subscription or donate money to some cause.

Junk Mail, image source: wikipedia

Often the same organization sends me multiple letters asking for my subscription or donation.

Then there are the wads of newspaper ads for local stores; those I throw immediately into the recycling bin.

All these ads and letters represent a huge waste of paper and money.

The Wikipedia article on Advertising junk mail says

In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 44% of junk mail is discarded without being opened or read, equalling four million tons of waste paper per year, with 32% recovered for recycling… The CO2 emissions from 41 pounds of advertising mail received annually by the average US consumer is about 47.6 kilograms (105 pounds) according to one study.

The publications and causes should send me requests by email only!    There should be an easy way to ask them to do so.  We can put a “no trespassing” sign on our lawn, and we can get our phone number added to the national Do Not Call Registry.  Maybe we need a similar: Do Not Send Me Solicitations by U.S. Mail Registry.

The Wikipedia article says:

Several organizations offer opt-out services to people who wish to reduce or eliminate the amount of addressed advertising mail they receive. In the UK, the Mailing Preference Service allows people to register with them for removal from posted as opposed to hand-delivered mail. In the United States, there are several nonprofit organizations offering these services, such as, as well as private sector alternatives like Greendimes. Several websites critical of junk mail have guides for people interested in reducing the amount of junk mail they get, such as the Center for a New American Dream.

One problem is free speech rights: don’t people have the right to send me stuff?  But (Ibid.)

In response to a US Supreme Court ruling (Rowan v. Post Office Dept.[23]), the United States Postal Service enables an applicant to obtain a Prohibitory Order, which gives people the power to stop non-governmental organizations from sending them mail, and to demand such organizations remove the consumers’ information from their mailing lists.

Another problem is that all that junk mail probably helps the bottom line of the U.S. Postal Service.

In fact, this article Going Postal: We Can Save America’s Mail Service While Bleeding the Banks Dry suggests the people send back to the banks those pre-paid envelopes that come with all the solicitations for credit cards and for opening bank accounts. That way the banks will be bled of some money and the post office will benefit.

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