A recent study by the Consumer Research Institute found that 91 percent of American adults know about the FCC’s Do Not Call list, the registry that brings unwanted telemarketing calls to an end.
The Center for a New American Dream, a national organization that “helps Americans take responsibility in protecting the environment, promote social justice and enhance the quality of life,” is seeking to create a similar list for junk mail or advertisement mail sent out in bulk. Signatures are currently being collected for the center’s petition to Congress to request an easy “do not junk” list similar to the Do Not Call Registry.
“It’s our citizens’ right to opt out of unwanted ad mail” and “an easy one-stop location should be available,” the center’s Web site shows.
The United States Postal Service currently directs customers to a mail preference service coordinated by Direct Marketing Association, a national marketing business. A $1 service fee and a written letter must be mailed to them or submitted online. People can opt out of receiving individual company advertisements or overall junk mail. Registering with DMA will keep people’s addresses off direct mailing lists for five years. The register, however, doesn’t include credit card, bank or magazine offers. Separate letters must be sent to the credit bureau, banks and individual magazine companies.
Other environmentalists have created a business dedicated to reducing junk mail. “Save time. Save trees. Save the environment.” This is the slogan of 41pounds.org. The group’s name was derived from the statistic that Americans would receive 41 pounds of junk mail every year. The organization guarantees to eliminate 80 to 95 percent of unwanted mail for five years for $41. They do the work for consumers of sending out letters to numerous businesses to have their names removed from bulk mailing lists that are sold to advertisers. One-third of the fee will be donated to environmental charities or a charity of their clients’ choice.
The amount of waste produced each year by junk mail has activists taking a stand against the ads as well. One hundred million trees are used each year to produce four million tons of junk mail and about $320 million of tax money is used in disposing of the mail. Local organizations have set up such campaigns, including www.888cleanla.com, a Web site that offers information for residents to limit and stop junk mail. Counties have even elected to set up their own programs like King County National Waste Prevention Coalition, which has an entire section on reducing junk mail.
“Recycle it all,” said John Paul Vera, president of the Greens, the CSUN environmental group. Vera recommends making use of the recycling center close to campus on the corner of Reseda Boulevard and Nordhoff Street.
Individuals are placed on direct mailing lists as a marketing campaign to match consumers with their buying preferences, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse’s Web site shows. When a product or service is purchased, people’s names and addresses are added to mailing lists. Direct marketing businesses collect the information and then sell it to other businesses. Businesses have a one percent response rate from direct mailers.
Fourteen states currently have pending bills related to creating an easier process for opting out of bulk mail. The statuses of the bills are being tracked on the Center for a New American Dream’s Web site.
Do you have more to say than a comment? Want any feedback from the writer? Story ideas? Head to The Gripevine.