Reduce your junk mail

On the Web, we deal with spam every day. Just having an e-mail address, you can hardly miss getting your daily dose of spam! I want to shift focus in this post and look at the junk mail that comes through our front doors.

A helpful postie

Back in August, an enterprising postman made the news when he issued leaflets on his round that advised people on reducing their junk mail. He lost his round for it.

I find it interesting that I’ve never heard of the Royal Mail’s opt-out policy. Now I know what to look for, I’ve found a page on the Royal Mail website about it: Controlling your mail.


Take a moment to think about how much unwanted post you get through your front door when your postie makes his drop. Think about where that post ends up. Think about the resources, time and money that is wasted in getting that unwanted post to you. Think about the impact that must have on the environment.

The potential waste is not limited to your home either. How much waste is there at work? What about previous addresses you have lived at?

Trail of waste

As a student, I lived in six different houses in six years. Students get quite a bit of junk mail, particularly from credit card companies ā€“ I’m looking at you MBNA and Capital One ā€“ so I wouldn’t be surprised if those houses still get junk mail addressed to me. We certainly stacked up quite a lot of post for previous tenants at our houses and much of it was junk.

If we couldn’t forward something on, we’d either recycle what we could or return to sender. Recycling things doesn’t solve the problem though, and the public only end up paying for recycling a growing amount of junk, so we’d try to stop the mail at source. Several times we even ended up calling or e-mailing companies as far away as Australia to stop them sending things.

Even more waste?!

Unfortunately, it looks like it’s only going to get worse. A couple of weeks ago, news came that Royal Mail intend to scrap their limit on junk mail of three items of unsolicited mail per household per week. More junk mail through our doors. More junk mail ending up in landfills. More of our planet’s natural resources going into things we don’t even want. And what’s it usually all in aid of? Businesses making money.

The call to action

Save yourself from the junk sent to your home. It only takes a few minutes to start reducing your junk mail and the environmental footprint it leaves behind. It probably takes you just as long to sort through your junk mail!

Write to Royal Mail and tell them you don’t want them to deliver unaddressed mail. This doesn’t include mail addressed to a generic recipient, such as “The Occupier”. If you own a business, you could do this for your business as well.

You can either write to the Royal Mail’s Freepost address for out-outs or e-mail them (see Controlling your mail for all contact details). If you use the e-mail address, Royal Mail will send you a form to sign and return. I wouldn’t bother with calling the phone number: reports are that it is permanently engaged.

If you also want to reduce the addressed mail you get from direct marketing campaigns, you can do so for free by registering with the Mailing Preference Service. Again, this won’t stop mail addressed to a generic recipient, such as “The Occupier” and mail from local business. There’s more infomation on the BBC website: How to junk junk mail.

And if you receive something through the post from a previous owner or tenant, try to stop it at the source. It will save you the headache and is better for the environment and the public wallet.

Energy Saving Week

This post coincides quite nicely with Energy Saving Week, which you might think I did deliberately, but is actually totally unintentional!

Even if you don’t do something to reduce your junk mail, I encourage people to get involved with Energy Saving Week. Each weekday focusses on a different measure you can take to reduce the energy you use. The Energy Saving Trust website also gives a useful top ten tips for saving energy, which could save you some cash. You can even do more and make a commitment to saving 20% of the energy you use everyday.

More information on junk mail

People may find these links helpful: