Junk mail. It's one of those things that we all hate but accept as part of our lives.
I've put up with random junk mail for YEARS. I can't tell you how many times my little apartment mailbox has been marked as "full" because of junk mail. I mean, I'm not great at checking the mail daily but that's because I rarely get legit mail.
I always found junk mail annoying and wasteful. I never even looked through the coupon books or insurance or credit card offers. I'd rip up the offers and toss all of into the recycling.
One day, I snapped. I must have had some kind of rough day because I. Was. Over. It. I decided to hunker down and figure out how to stop all the mindless mail.
I examined my mail and noticed I was getting three types of the junk variety. Promo mail, coupon packets, and an InStyle magazine I never signed up for.
Opting Out of Prescreened Offers
I was getting bombarded with car insurance and credit card offers I was never going to use so I quickly looked up how to get rid of these offers. I landed on this website and decided to do the electronic opt out. It's not permanent, but I figured it was the fastest option. It also lasts five years which gives me plenty of time to print out and mail the permanent opt out form.
The best part of this opt out was that it actually worked and it took like two minutes to submit!
Opting Out of Coupon Packets
Coupon packets are the worst. I've heard of very few people who actually look through these packets and use the coupons in them. These barely made it through the door before getting thrown with the other recycling.
Stopping the coupon packets took a little more determination. It turned out I was getting these packets from not one but two different senders. The Sacramento Bee (my local newspaper company) and RedPlum, which is now RetailMeNot.
RetailMeNot / RedPlum
The RetailMeNot coupon booklet doesn't give you any information about how to opt out so I took to Google. I found this answer through my search. It said the way to opt out is to call 1-860-298-5855 and speak to a representative about getting off the mailing list.
I called only to find that the customer service hours listed online don't match reality. After listening to some recorded messages I was able to leave a voicemail with my request. I provided my name and mailing address and asked to be removed from the mailing list.
RetailMeNot used to be RedPlum, so I googled how to opt out of RedPlum mailers and was (luckily) able to find an opt out form. I filled it out and submitted my request. According to the blurb on the website, it can take up to six weeks for your request to take effect. Still, six weeks is better than an eternity of unwanted coupons!
To stop the coupons from the Sacramento Bee, I first called the customer service number on the packet. I was connected to a representative relatively quickly. I didn't have an account with them (because I've never subscribed to the Sac Bee) so they looked up my address. It turned out that a previous tenant had a subscription and they were operating off that information. I was told they'd take my address off the mailing list.
Unfortunately, this didn't work. I ended up having to email them to opt out again. Still crossing my fingers and hoping it works this time.
Opting Out of InStyle
I'll be honest: 15 year old me would have been stoked to receive an unsolicited, free copy of any fashion or lifestyle magazine. But that was back when I really into What Not To Wear and The Hills and Project Runway. I'd rip out the ads I liked and arranged them on my wall. I thought I was very cool.
In my late twenties, however, a free monthly magazine that I rarely opened was more of a hassle than a treat.
Once again, I had to be determined. I had to create an account on Instyle's website to see my subscription. Unfortunately, there wasn't a way for me to cancel my subscription without contacting customer service.
I used the contact form and wrote a firm but polite note explaining my situation and requesting to cancel this random subscription. They stopped mailing me the issues. Though in the process of creating an account, I got signed up for their emails, which was annoying but not the end of the world since unsubscribing from emails is really easy.
It still freaks me out that I had a subscription even though I never signed up for one. Like, HOW did they get my information?
I can't speak to how successful apps like PaperKarma are because I've chosen to take the free route versus a paid one. But if you've tried it or a different service, please leave a comment telling us about your experience!
Bonus: Go Paperless!
If you're on a roll and want to whittle your paper mail down to just birthday cards and party invitations, choose to go paperless! Sure, it's a little tedious, but again, each time you go paperless, you're eliminating a piece of mail that you don't really need a physical copy of. Most of our bills are on autopay anyway, but we've gone paperless with our utilities and medical bills because it guarantees I'll actually see the bill (see my note about being a horrible mail checker above).
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I wish I could say that opting out of all junk mail is always super quick. Alas, it's not. It takes effort and determination and patience to navigate clunky systems. But at the end of each process you'll have a less crammed mailbox! And bonus, less paper will be wasted printing unwanted mail, plus less gas will be used and fewer emissions produced delivering it. You win and so does the planet!