Wednesday, March 31, 2010

CURB THE JUNK MAIL WASTE STREAM TO YOUR HOME

For as long as I can recall I have hated junk mail. Credit card offers, coupons, catalogs, insurance, grocery ads, or just anything I did not solicit on my own. I have no problem of being informed from time to time about a product, service I have shown an interest in----or a worthy cause I have supported. However, in recent years, the stream of unwanted mail that goes above and beyond the occasional update, has seemed to escalate to the point it has undermined any effort I took over the years to curb its flow.

I used to call every sender of junk mail that I would have never solicited and requested that I be removed from their lists---and---EVEN tried to create a mailbox that would only allow for standard sized envelopes to be delivered. That worked for a little while until the carrier started leaving junk mail elsewhere. Most recently, I wanted to take a stand to curb excessive junk mail once and for all when I discovered a whole new heap of it in my mailbox from sources I could not possibly trace to any purchase I made or submission of personal information. No matter how hard I tried to connect the dots as to how this mail could have found me, I could not. Maybe there is someone out there who does not like me and thought it cute to give my name to a supplier of urinary health and control products for the elderly, as well as a manufacturer of an electronic cigarette! Who knows?

How ever this mail must have reached me, it was either going to be recycled, burned or pitched as I have always done--and to be truthful, these are tasks I wish to not have levied upon me by a relentless direct mail marketing industry, or our very own post office management which must seem to feel it is ok for the public to serve as their dumping grounds. I called the post office and spoke with the manager on how to best deal with the new wave of junk mail assault. I was given a few numbers to call for those “do not mail” services that are supposed to stop the flow, (I have already tried this in the past and have had marginal success) but after the manager offered what she must have thought to be helpful tips, I had to wonder about their interest to curb it at all when she then tells me how much they depend on the delivery of junk mail these days to keep the US Postal Service functioning!

The manager insisted their funding from the government has reached an all time low. I immediately thought that if they would find a way to stop being the sole conduit for mass mailing from advertisers, perhaps they’d save quite a bit of operating cash that goes out to simply deliver unsolicited mail which most, the moment it is received, ends up in the trash can! I also had to wonder just when has the sole purpose of the US Postal Service become about serving the needs of advertisers sending unsolicited mail?

Sure, I can understand mail order business being of value to them due to the growth in internet usage which has all but eliminated anyone ever sending a real letter anymore---But I am not talking about the USPS serving the needs of customers who have ordered products/goods/services through mail; rather, I am talking about downright plain and simple unsolicited mail. I have little pity for the struggles of the USPS if in fact, their main function and source of revenue now depends upon them sending people garbage they don’t need or never asked for!

Because of all this, I have read a lot of the latest information about how to curb the junk mail. What was so illuminating to me was being reminded of the staggering and alarming waste of natural resources that goes into this whole direct mail marketing industry from the forest that produced the trees that supplied the paper, to the journey to the landfill where most of it still goes, and all the oil used throughout the production, delivery and disposal processes.

Even if some of the junk mail is recycled, such a process still consumes energy that did not have to be wasted in the first place. So, again, if delivering junk mail is the main source of sustenance for our postal service, perhaps they need to find a new sustainable and productive function in this day and age. Think about it: From life giving forest….to paper….to junk mail….to delivery…..to garbage can…to landfill! What a futile waste of natural resources. The act, in my opinion is about as productive as bailing water out of a boat with a bucket full of holes!

The postal manger I spoke to basically justified the junk mail delivery for the sake of job preservation and her "just throw it away" attitude was a sad testament to the wasteful attitudes pervasive today. Her comments reminded me of the sentiment of the whalers of the 1800’s how they justified the endless slaughter of whales in the name of preserving the whale oil/product industry. The only difference is that we slaughter forests as the living entity. The old “destroy much to save little” ideology! (The end of the hey day of whaling didn’t give way to any kinder of an industry, but that is another story!)To top it all, the manager added that any junk mail returned or left behind is NOT recycled by USPS! The question I left her with was simple: Do you really think this is a wise use of limited resources? Well, if she didn’t think of today, maybe she will think of tomorrow and her children.

Finally, I want to take this time to pass along helpful websites that I have discovered to be very helpful in curbing the stream of waste and environmental destruction caused by junk mail. Here they are:

1. STOP THE JUNK MAIL MONSTER: http://www.ecocycle.org/junkmail/index.cfm#step7

2. 41 POUNDS DOT ORG: http://www.41pounds.org/

3. DIRECT MARKETING ASSOCIATION: https://www.dmachoice.org/dma/member/home.action

(Oh, by the way, here is a little tip too…. Just save all your junk mail in a box, black out your address on all articles….then send it back to the post office or the last or most frequent mailer of junk mail with a note that states: “YOU ARE THE WINNER OF THIS MONTH’S JUNK MAIL AWARD!”…. No, just kidding... seriously, don’t try that at home folks!)

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