Losing My 41 Pounds of Paper Waste

Remember when I wrote that post about the awesome 41Pounds.org in Ferndale?

On April 27, I paid $41 to have the nonprofit work to keep me off junk mail lists for five years and to have a third of that cost donated to a charity (I chose one of my new fave news organizations Grist).

For the full details, please check out the original post. Today, I just want to update you on what the group has done since I signed up.

Within a couple weeks, I got a letter in the mail (printed with soy-based ink on 100 percent recycled paper, of course) thanking me for signing up and alerting me to the fact that they’d already begun the process of stopping my junk mail.

Love note from 41pounds.org

In addition to the letter were six postcards asking that I be removed from individual groups’ mailing lists. These were companies that required me signing off on the request and they were: Publisher’s Clearing House, Reader’s Digest Associations, infoUSA/Donnelly Marketing, Haines Criss-Cross Directory, Abicus Direct and Mike’s Market Share. These are big companies  around the country, from Colorado to Nebraska to New York and even my dear Michigan.

The postcards ask that my name (already typed on the card) be removed from mailing lists and databases for the companies. They also included my address and asked that any variations of my name — this is good, since people most often misspell it. I mean as recently as yesterday (this means you C.S.)  — be removed from databases with that address. Each one concluded with the request that a representative contact me at my (already printed) e-mail address if there are any questions.

All I had to do was sign my name and pick up the postage costs.

If you have other people living at your residence, there is space to write their names in too. Only one signature is required though.

Now back to that letter. It was pretty cool because it not only thanked me for signing up, but it also lists six tips to continue keeping my name off the bulk mail lists. I should suggest you sign up yourself to see them, but I’ll let you in on a couple. I am honestly not that fond of all of them, mainly the one that says not to use supermarket club cards because they are used to track your spending habits for marketing purposes. I love saving money at Kroger with my card when I go though!

Probably the best tips are to fill out a temporary mail forwarding form when you move, instead of a change of address because the USPS sells the information. Another good one is to read the fine print when giving your address for any purpose, including charity donations. Make sure they aren’t going to share or rent your info to other parties.

There’s also another little card with a note to contact the Direct Marketing Association, which has thousands of members, and ask to be put on its do not mail list. It also supplies phone numbers for various phone book companies which you’d need to contact directly, as well.

Until I moved to my new apartment a week ago, I hadn’t seen much of a change in the junk mail I received, but I expect that I should soon. 41pounds says it takes about a month to start seeing changes, and I’m just past that mark. And now that I’ve sent the postcards, I think I’m well on my way to contributing 41 pounds less of paper waste to this world we’ve got on our hands.

Too bad just having moved to a new place seems to mean that I’m sure to get someone else’s junk mail for a while.

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