Friday, May 2, 2008

Green Friday: Buried in junk mail, part 2--unaddressed ad mail

I used to receive, on average, three or four pieces of unaddressed advertising mail every day—the kind of stuff that gets delivered indiscriminately to every house in the area: flyers for cleaning and gardening services (on my paranoid days, I would wonder if they’d been looking through my windows and peeking into the backyard, thinking “Wow, this woman really needs our help!”), menus for local restaurants, fat envelopes of coupons, and worst of all here in Vancouver, ads from real estate agents.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against real estate agents. In fact, some of my best friends are real estate agents (Hi! Love you!). But do I really need flyers about every house that’s on the market in my own neighborhood? If I want to know how much Myrtle and Joe down the street are asking for their house, I’ll look in one of the three real estate supplements that are delivered with the community newspaper every week.

And I definitely don’t need fancy brochures and glossy postcards advertising the latest skyscraping condo development downtown. I’m not likely to pack up my husband, two kids, three cats, the contents of my sewing room, 12 bins of Lego, seven (or is it eight?) guitars, a piano, and hundreds of books and move them all to a $2 million dollar condo on the 25th floor of the Shangri-La.

One agent here sends notepads to, I assume, everybody in town. They arrive once a month or so whether we need them or not. The funny thing is that when I saw this woman at a community event last summer, I couldn’t figure out at first why she seemed so familiar. For about 15 minutes I wondered why I associated this complete stranger with the dreaded grocery shopping. Was she a checker? Did she work at the deli counter? Then I got it—her picture was at the top of my shopping list!

Canada Post lets you easily opt out of receiving unaddressed ad mail. I did this recently and the very next day noticed a drastic decrease in the amount of unwanted mail I get. No more flyers, no more menus, no more coupons, no more notepads (which is okay with me—I have a stockpile of them), and no more real estate ads. Child One, who is responsible for emptying the recycling box, has had his workload cut in half.

The founders of the Red Dot Campaign are trying to increase the number of Canadians who know about Canada Post’s Consumer's Choice program. Their website gives instructions on how to opt out—the whole process takes about two minutes:
  1. Print this letter and fill it out.

  2. Leave it in your mailbox for your postal carrier.

  3. Make a little sign for your mailbox that says “No junk mail, please” and has a red dot on it. (The please isn’t strictly required, but I’m a mom, and you know how we are about these things.)
That’s it. You’ll get a card from Canada Post explaining the program and how to opt back in if you change your mind.

Canada Post’s opt-out program doesn’t deal with addressed junk mail, the kind that comes from being on a gazillion mailing lists. However, if the 67% of Canadians who aren’t interested in unaddressed ads no longer received them, how many fewer trees would we use?

The Red Dot Campaign’s website directs U.S. readers to Forest Ethics, which has information on efforts to get a similar service started in the States.


Hayley Townley, Breast Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire! said...

Remind me not to send notepads with my picture on it. No need to be associated with the dreaded grocery shopping.

KathyLikesPink said...

Wow, I wish we had something like that here. And I'd REALLY like to stop the addressed junk mail. I have the majority of my bills paid electronically these days, but the mail in my post office box has increased to ridiculous proportions.

Margerie said...

Maybe we should impose a junk mail and spam mail tax............I think that would cut it down!

Thanks for the link- I will check it out.