There are few things more annoying than junk mail. Paris Hilton comes to mind – as does whistling and/or humming in public – but junk mail reigns supreme when it comes to being both irritating and wasteful (Paris a close second perhaps). Modeled after the hugely popular Do Not Call Registry, ForestEthics has created the Do Not Mail campaign in an attempt to persuade the United States government and direct mail industry to offer citizens an easy and comprehensive way to opt out of junk mail. Currently, the petition has over 28,000 signatures – including those of celebrity environmentalists Leonardo DiCaprio and Adrien Grenier – but that seems like such a measly number compared to the damage junk mail causes.
Here are some key figures about junk mail (from DoNotMail.org
- Junk mail in the U.S. accounts for one-third of all the mail delivered in the world
- More than 100,000,000,000 pieces of junk mail are delivered each year (that's more than 800 pieces per household)
- The greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the manufacturing of the 6.5 million tons of paper required for junk mail annually is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of 3.7 million cars
- More than 100 million trees a year are cut down and made into paper for junk mail. Those trees come from endangered forests like Canada's Boreal and Indonesia's rainforests
Nowadays, if you buy one product from a company you can expect to be bombarded with catalogues, flyers and pointless promotion letters for years to come. Even if you move, they find you – trust me, I know. That's because direct mail organizations purchase your name from banks, credit bureaus and card companies, magazine subscription lists, and other commercial services – but they are also getting your name and address from the USPS.
This year  the USPS estimates it will earn $5.2 million by licensing change of address data to private sector companies, keeping junk mailers' address books up-to-date. And that doesn't include the fees the USPS collects – at 50 cents a pop – from every piece of mail it forwards that's labeled "Address Correction Requested"; the post office alerts the senders to the new address. In doing so, it plays a role in making sure that all the marketing literature you never wanted in the first place, follows you wherever you go, whether you want it to or not. – Salon
Makes you think twice before filling out a change of address form at post office, doesn't it? Sign the petition here and make sure to check out the EPA's list of the top junk mail offenders (with contact information) to help reduce the amount of junk mail you receive. Further Reading: