Wednesday, January 19

LGO! #2 Conquering Junk Mail

Hello out there! I've been away for a few days, volunteering at the Paradise Park Aid Station for the HURT 100 - that is a 100 mile trail run ultra marathon through the hills outside of urban Honolulu. Take a look at Frayed Laces and you can get something of an idea of what the runners go through. Amazing!

Anyway, here is my second in the Let's Get Organized Series. Lots of people out there are attacking paperwork messes as the New Year starts. My belief on paperwork is that junk mail is at the heart of it. Think about it - how much mail comes into your home each day that has no real use for you? Even advertiesments from your bank or your credit card are JUNK!
I believe that most people in the United States, and also many parts of the world are familiar with the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Say it with me: “reduce, reuse, recycle.” I am a tree hugger at heart. I haven’t always been a tree hugger. I used to think recycling was enough. Then I started to watch Planet Green, took the “Tour de Trash” in Hampton, Virginia (highly recommended by the way), and developed a recycling program for the facility at which I worked.
I learned A LOT. First of all, paper can only be recycled a handful of times before the fibers are too short to be used. Aluminum can be 100% recycled – i.e. one can becomes one can. New aluminum, however, is extremely energy intensive and, in fact, used to be more valuable than gold. Did you know that the Washington Monument cap was made of aluminum because it was so valuable? Trash has to go somewhere, and in Hampton, Virginia, the landfill is literally surrounded by subdivisions.
What is a perfectly organized person to do? REDUCE. The best way to minimize the effort required to organize a room, a business or a life, is to reduce the amount of stuff you have in the first place. This means putting in some leg work to reduce the amount of junk mail, catalogs, and circulars that arrive at your door every day. This means making a conscious effort to only buy new (or new to you) when you legitimately need or want something. Notice I included ‘want.’ Being a perfectly organized person does not have to mean that you only have things you absolutely NEED. Just like being environmentally friendly doesn’t mean that you have to sit around in the dark and eat bean sprouts that you grew in your back yard. It just means that you make a conscious choice about what you allow to impact your life.
The best defense against clutter is to not let it
into your life in the first place!!
And in the process, you become a little bit more environmentally friendly.


Direct Marketing Association Opt-Out:
- Manage your mail, start or stop receiving mail based on your preferences. I choose to opt out of everything, because I have a hard enough time managing mail that legitimately pertains to me, let alone advertisements.
- You can also manage mail for dependents in your care and deceased individuals at this site.
- Service is free if you register online, $1 if you mail in the application.
- Unfortunately, you do have to register each name individually, including misspellings, maiden names, other people at the house. Fortunately, the service is quite effective and drastically reduces your junk mail.
Opt Out Pre-Screen:
- This service prevents Credit Consumer Reporting Companies (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax) from including your credit file information on lists used by creditors and insurers to generate ‘firm offers’ (prescreen/preapprovals).
- You can opt out for five years online or for life by mailing in an application.

End Unwanted Catalogs
Every time you purchase something online, over the phone, or through a catalog, you get added to the mailing list, and often your information is sold to other solicitations. When you receive an unwanted catalog, find the 1-800-number on the catalog (or look it up online) and call to be removed from the mailing list. You often need information from the label of the mailing, so be sure to keep that on hand until you’ve made the call. This same principle applies to solicitations that are hand delivered and other offers that are associated with a company you legitimately do business with. Be sure to request to be removed from ALL of the mailing or promotional lists.
Junk Mail Removal Services is a service that will do all of the above work (and more) to reduce your junk mail. There is a fee, but a portion goes to charity.

Update: Phone Book Opt Out
I didn't consider this, because I haven't had a home phone in a while, but what about the phone books (thanks
Attempting Aloha). Turns out that Yellow Pages is going green! Visit and enter your zip code - the page will give you a list of the phone book publishers in your area. Unfortunately, it looks like you will have to contact them individually, but that they will participate and take you off the delivery list. I can't verify this, because again, I don't have a home phone, but if you try, let me know how it works!
Fax Opt Out
The phone book question reminded me of unwanted faxes we used to receive at my old office. Every one came in with a phone number at the bottom to call to opt out. Most of the opt out calls we super easy and consisted of typing in the fax number.
Email Opt Out
Finally, clear out electronic clutter as well. Set your email's junk filter to exclusive. Periodically check the junk box for real emails (I check about once per week because my junk automatically deletes mail more than 10 days old). If it is real mail, move it to your inbox. I determine if it is real by the from address and the subject without opening the email. If it is a mailing list that you signed up for but no longer want, the email usually contains opt out instructions. Follow them to be taken off the list. WORD OF CAUTION: If the email looks like spam, I just ignore it and/or mark it as spam with the hotmail option. If you are not sure how you got on the list, do not respond to the email or follow their unsubscribe instructions. Often, this confirms your email address and the volume of mail increases. In these cases, just mark the email as spam and block future emails from that sender.
I hope some of this helps! It has definitely helped me. Now, more often than not, when I check the mail, there isn't anything in the mailbox! And when there is, I can read through it, file it away and move on with my life.

Next week - Developing the filing system so you can move on with your life! :-) Thanks for stopping by, and next time, I will bring pictures!

:-) Barbara

1 comment:

  1. Do you know how to stop those lame phone books from coming? We just had 4 of them delivered on our doorstep the other day (2 large, 2 small). I haven't opened a phone book in YEARS thanks to internet and my phone/gps. I get so frustrated when those huge things come in, and I have to immediately send them to recycling. :(



Hi! I hope you've had as much fun reading about my adventure as I have had writing about it! I would love to hear from you! :-) Barbara

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