Learn How to Reduce Your Junk Mail

Are you tired of unwanted mail?  Have you ever returned from a vacation with a mound of mail and most of it is solicitations and credit card applications?

Reducing junk mail gets clutter out of your mailbox, frees up your time, and helps protect the environment.  Everything we use can be traced back to a natural resource, including junk mail.  It takes 17 trees to make a ton of paper, and over 100 million trees get used for junk mail every year in the U.S. 

Trees aren’t the only resource used to make our junk mail, either.  It takes 36 million BTUs to make a ton of paper, and the production and disposal of junk mail alone consumes more energy than 2.8 million cars. (New American Dream calculation from U.S. Department of Energy and the Paper Task Force statistics) 

But there is good news!  You can get rid of 90 percent of that junk mail much easier than you might think.

In order to substantially reduce your junk mail, you need to reduce access to your name and address so that it won't be traded, rented, or sold to companies who send you unwanted mail.  

The following activities often lead to increases in your junk mail load:

  • Entering sweepstakes or contests
  • Filling out warranty cards
  • Donating to charity organizations
  • Registering at meetings or conferences
  • Having your address listed in a publication
  • Ordering from a catalog
  • Signing up for a service (car insurance, health care, etc.)
  • Having a credit card

To keep these activities from creating more junk mail, practice preventative junk mail care and make the following a part of your routine:

  • When you sign up for a service or order from a catalog, tell them not to sell your name or send promotional materials.
  • If you do want to receive a particular catalog, but not so frequently, request to receive it less often.
  • On the bottom of checks made out to magazines, catalogs or charity organizations, write "DO NOT SELL MY NAME".
  • Do not give out your address unless it is necessary.
  • Post Office change of address cards: The U.S. Postal Service makes money by selling the information from change of address cards to private businesses.  This is how national list brokers, credit bureaus and others may get your name in the first place.  As an alternative solution, you may send out your own postcards announcing your new address to those whose mail you wish to receive.  You can also ask the post office to hold your mail for pick up until everyone knows your address.

Two ways that won't help you reduce junk mail:

  • Refusing unsolicited mail - Writing "Return to Sender" or "Refused" on unsolicited mail and placing it in your mailbox does not work.  The U.S. Post Office does not forward third class bulk mail, so this mail will be discarded.
  • Returning unsolicited mail postage due - Trying to get the attention of a company by returning your accumulated junk mail in an envelope with insufficient postage does not work.

Follow the steps below so you can help keep junk mail from finding its way to your doorstep:

  • Fill out and mail simple letters to companies that send you unwanted mail.  Be sure to list all variations of your name (such as John Doe, John T. Doe, J. Doe, Jonathan Doe, Johnny Doe)
  • E-mail, fill out the online form, call or send a letter to the following organizations to request your name to be taken off their list:

Direct Marketing Association (DMA)  

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is the single largest provider of direct mail lists.  You may also remove the names of deceased individuals from marketing lists.

Equifax / Trans Union / Novus / Experian

These credit bureaus send out most of the unsolicited credit offers.  They will ask your name, address and social security number.  Your social security number is used to locate all the variations of your name that appears on their mailing lists. You should call every two years.  1-888-567-8688 (1-888-5-OPTOUT)

Opt Out Prescreen

Opt-out from receiving firm offers for five years electronically or permanently by mailing a form available through this website.  If you choose to opt-out, you will no longer be included in firm offer lists provided by consumer credit reporting companies. 


RedPlum is the direct marketing company behind the ShopWise* and Missing Children ads.  They claim to be the single largest private customer of the US Postal Service.  You can send a letter, use the free online service, or call the toll-free number to be removed from their list.

Harte Hanks Communications

Harte Hanks sends a wide variety of coupons and ads throughout the country, including Penny Savers. You can call or send a letter to be removed from their lists.


Sends regular mailings full of coupons.  You can go online, call, or send them a letter.


Remove your name from specific catalog lists for free by visiting CatalogChoice.org.

Call the number on your catalog and tell them you want to be taken off their list or write a simple letter stating that you want your name removed.  It is easier for the organization to remove your name if they have the exact copy of your address label.  Cut or peel off the catalog address label and glue or tape the label to the bottom of the letter or postcard. 

Computer Disks

America Online 1-800-827-6364

Junk Faxes:

The transmission of unsolicited faxed advertisements has been illegal under U.S. Federal Law since 1991.  To stop junk faxes from coming to your business, opt-out by contacting the sender of the faxes.  If you are unsuccessful, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission by going online, calling, or writing a letter.

You can file a complaint at no charge with the FCC using an online complaint form.  

Spam Email Listings:

To remove your email address from e-marketers lists, go to www.dmaconsumers.org/consumers/optoutform_emps.shtml , and fill out their on-line form.

  • Report spam to the Federal Trade Commission. Either send a copy of the unwanted message to uce@ftc.gov  or fill out the complaint form at www.ftc.gov/spam. They use emails stored in this database to pursue law enforcement action.
  • Contact the senders ISP. Virtually all ISPs forbid their members to send SPAM.  If your complaint is valid, there is a good chance the spammer will lose connectivity.
  • Spamcop.net provides a quick and easy online Spam reporting system as well as filtered email accounts.

How to Stop Getting Telemarketing Calls:

 National Do Not Call Registry

Visit the website and fill out their form to add your name to the do-not-call list.

Federal law prohibits telemarketers from initiating a telephone call to a person who has previously stated that they do not wish to receive calls from that particular company.  Therefore, you may ask the telemarketer to permanently remove you from their calling list.

If you continue to receive calls from a telemarketer to who you've requested not to call you back, you may file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by email at fccinfo@fcc.gov  or by phone at 888-TELL-FCC.  They use information from this database to pursue law enforcement action.

Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information

They also have information on how to keep your information secure and avoid fraud.


Junk mail is a waste, and it costs businesses real money.  There are simple things you can do to substantially cut back the amount of junk mail you get in your office and save money.

The suggestions below will help you reduce the mail received for staff members that are long gone, multiple mailings for the same person (often with small inconsistencies such as misspellings and abbreviations, that make them seem like unique records), and poorly targeted mailings (such as office supply catalogs for the CEO or E-commerce seminars for your building maintenance staff).

What you can do:

Ask for Cooperation: When receiving catalogs, advertising flyers or other offers from companies that you will not do business with, ask them to remove your address from their list.

Control your Exposure: When submitting purchase orders, registrations for classes/conferences and subscriptions include a statement about preventing waste and protecting privacy by not adding your address to mailing lists. 

Practice good mail list etiquette: If your organization maintains databases or mail lists, be protective of your clients. Be very selective about how you use data, and offer listed parties the option of not being distributed.

Keep your mail lists up to date: You waste money and time mailing materials to addresses that are no longer valid. Reduce waste and conserve resources by periodically updating your list(s).

Spread the word: Your company or organization should let everyone know about the goal of minimizing waste from unwanted mail.

Find out more information on reducing your office Junk Mail:

Global Stewards

longchamp outlet

Reviews ways to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive at home and at your business.

Federal Trade Comission

Information on stopping unsolicited mail, phone calls, and email.

Radio Spots

Stop Junk Mail (30 sec)

Stop Junk Mail (60 sec)