3 Quick Ways to Stop Junk Mail

Want to know the secret to reducing junk mail? Here are 3 quick ways you can stop junk mail and save trees (and your sanity) in less than 10 minutes.

how to stop junk mail top down shot of beautiful catalogs on a gray background

Anyone else experience an influx of junk mail recently? I swear the second I got pregnant and started a baby registry my name was slapped on everyone’s mailing list. In came a flood of meal kit promotions, coupon packs, parenting magazine offers, and catalogs. So many catalogs.

The Benefits of Stopping Junk Mail

The benefits of stopping junk mail goes beyond saving trees. It may not seem like it but junk mail contributes to our mental load. It’s a major contributor of clutter, which we know raises stress levels. Not to mention, sifting through it takes valuable time from our day — time we could be putting towards people or activities that are way more important.

Early on in my minimalism journey, I realized that junk mail that never makes its way into the house never turns into counter clutter. So, for a while, I tossed it straight into the recycling bin on my way into the house. Every time I did that though I couldn’t help but feel a little bit of guilt. I don’t even know what for. I guess everything about it just felt wasteful, and that weighed on me.

I’ve been unsubscribing from catalogs for a while now (sharing my fave trick for that below), but a few months ago I decided I was done feeling guilty about the amount of unsolicited mail we were tossing.

So I looked into ways to get off of everyone and their mother’s mailing list and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. It hasn’t stopped entirely, but in less than 10 minutes I reduced our junk mail by 80 percent I’d guess? That’s crazy! Now I’m wishing I had done it years ago.

Want to save trees and your sanity, too? Keep reading!

The Difference Between a Customer and a Prospect

One thing that’s helpful to know before reducing your junk mail is whether companies see you as a customer or a prospect.

If you receive mail from a company you’ve purchased from, you’re considered a customer. If you’re a customer, companies can keep you on their list for invoicing and return purposes, so you need to contact them directly.

If you receive mail from a company you’ve never used or purchased anything from, your name is on a prospect list that companies use to find new customers. This was the bulk of junk mail we were receiving that I unknowingly thought I had no way of stopping.

Now that we’ve covered those details, here’s what you need to do to get your name off of all the lists.

How to Stop Junk Mail

1. Visit DMAchoice to get off of prospect lists.

To stop junk mail, first register with DMAchoice to quickly and easily get off of company prospect lists. The cost to register with DMAchoice is minimal — just a $2 processing fee per 10 year period. Prospect lists generate junk mail in the form of:

  • Catalogs from companies you’re not already a customer of
  • Magazine offers like new subscriber promotions
  • Other mail offers like retail, cable, phone and bank promotions, mail addressed to “Current Resident,” etc.

DMAchoice lets you add up to four different name variations to your account. This is great if you receive mail sent to multiple versions of your name, including nicknames, aliases or misspellings.

They recommend creating a separate account for each person receiving mail in the household — I’m guessing because they can charge an additional $2 per person. But I added my husband’s name to my account as an experiment and he seems to be getting less now, too. The verdict is still out though!

Of course, you can always update your request to start receiving mail offers again, either from an entire category or a specific company.

2. Visit OptOutScreen.com to opt-out of new credit card solicitations.

Next, register with Optoutscreen.com. This service is free, and it takes maybe two minutes, but I highly recommend it. Fewer opportunities for criminals to be opening up new credit cards reduces your risk of identity theft.

To opt-out of credit card offers and mailing promotions related to accounts you have open, call the customer service number on the back of the card. In this case, you’re a customer (not a prospect), so you have to have to reach out to the credit card company directly.

3. Visit Catalog Choice to be removed from company mailing lists.

The third thing you can do to stop junk mail is to use Catalog Choice, a service that sends individual companies catalog opt-out requests on your behalf, regardless of whether you’re a customer or a prospect. It’s up to the company to honor and process that request, but I’ve found the vast majority of catalogs I opt-out of stop coming within a month or two.

Here’s my simple process for unsubscribing from individual catalogs. Every time a new one comes in, I tear off the back cover (which has all of the necessary info) and put it in my inbox along with other papers that need my attention. Then, once every week or two, I grab the stack of catalog covers, sign into Catalog Choice, and unsubscribe from all of them at once.

Occasionally I’ll get a catalog that isn’t in the Catalog Choice directory, usually from a newer brand or company. If that’s the case, I’ll go to the company’s website and try to unsubscribe that way. If that’s not an option, I call the 800 number on the back and ask to be removed from their mailing list the old-fashioned way.

Catalog Choice is free to use, but they accept donations to help cover operating costs since they are a nonprofit.

Do these three things and you seriously reduce the amount of junk mail in your life!

If you don’t want to stop there…

Collect all of your paper statements (phone, bank, credit cards, etc.) throughout the month and switch those over to digital statements instead.

Got more tips for reducing junk mail? Drop them in the comments below, and I’ll add them to the list!

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Author: Elle Penner M.P.H., R.D.

I'm Elle, Registered Dietitian and minimalism-obsessed mama with a thing for simplifying, particularly when it comes to clutter, calendars, and family meals. Favorite things include carbs, cooking, kid-free workouts, and high-waisted yoga pants.

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