Friday, August 03, 2007

Its Time to Junk the Junk Mail!

One of my evil adversaries in the decluttering war is .... PAPER! I cannot believe how much paper comes into my little apartment. Combine that with my total lack of organizational skills and the bad habit of just setting mail down wherever, it becomes quickly overwhelming. So, I am going through the paper, one stack at a time. I've got three boxes next to me:
  • One for recycling
  • One for shredding
  • One for things that need to be filed (of course I need to figure out exactly what needs to be kept and I need a good filing system. PLEASE give me ideas)
I cannot believe how much junk comes in through my mailbox. Sitting here looking at all of this cr*p, I almost feel violated. There are tons of those credit card application things, flyers, catalogs, requests for money from charities, and on and on.

I am determined to shrink the amount of mail that comes into my home. Here are some things that you can do to tame this "paper monster":

  • Stop junk mail from entering your home in the first place. There are several ways to go about this.
    • Go to to get off of the credit card lists. This is supposed to be good for five years, at which time you need to renew your decision to "opt out".
    • Go to to get off of mailing lists. It costs $1.00 to remove your name and address from mailing lists and you can sign up online or by mail with their registration page.
    • Do what I did and sign up with They claim to be very effective at cutting out your junk mail by up to 90% and they plant a tree each month in your name. I did an online search before I signed up and didn't see anything that would raise red flags. You can stop the junk mail for up to 8 people living at one address. If you are receiving catalogs that you'd rather not get, there is a place for you to put in the titles and they will stopped as well. This service is $36 for one year but I signed up with them because I like what they are doing and want to support a group like this. EDIT: When I signed up with them, it was $36/year. However, I just got an email yesterday from greendimes telling me that they are issuing a $21.00 refund. The fee is now only $15.00 year.

  • Sign up for electronic statements
    • Go to your bank's website as well as the sites for your credit cards and find out if you can opt out of getting your statements in the mail each month. Most financial institutions now have the capability for customers to access the last several months worth of statements online. You would also be able to print out a particular statement if you needed to.

  • Keep your shredder handy.
    • No matter which method you choose to get off of mailing lists, it will take 2-3 months to really see the decrease in the amount of junk you receive. In the meantime, keeping your shredder (and recycling bin) handy and don't let your junk mail pile up. When you get the mail, open it up, decide if it is something that you need to act on or file. If not, and if there is any personal information on it, quickly shred it and put in the recycling bin anything that does not have to be shred.

I'm sure there are many other things that you can do regarding the clutter and waste that is junk mail. I would really love to hear ideas from other people out there. And I still really need ideas as to a good filing system and a system for dealing with bills. For too long I've had stacks here and there and have, I'm ashamed to admit, paid things late because of this. Please send any ideas my way so that I can improve in this area.


Rob said...

You can get paper/plastic folders that concertina out into sections.
I just stuff everything important in there. It keeps everything safe and I have one place for all the important documents.

If you're more organised than I am, you could always have an index system (i.e. B for baking, I for Insurance etc.)

Rob said...

Whilst baking is a very important pursuit, what I really meant was banking...

Gavi said...

Without a baking section, where will I keep all my cookie, muffin, and bread recipes?


Thanks for the idea about those accordian-type folders. I've thought about doing that. One of my fears is that I won't know what is actually important enough to save and will throw everything in there. But even that would be better than little piles all over in drawers, on shelves, on tables, etc.

Jenny said...

Great tips. We've implemented some of them, not all and have seen a significant decrease in the amount of mail we receive. I found this link I thought you might enjoy: Junkmail Gems.

kelley said...

thanks for the links! i just paid a few bills online for the first time last night, and felt good about banishing paper as well as saving money on stamps. i wonder if i can use one of these services to opt out of junk mail at work. seems like there's a new junky catalog in my inbox every other day.
i file everything in an accordian file by month. that system has only been in place this year, but so far, so good.

Catherine said...

We have an accordian file that is well-nigh bursting with stuff! I recently thought we should upgrade to a small filing cabinet, but those take up quite a lot more space. I thought starting a family would require a lot more filing of papers, but then I remembered that it was my friends with three children who gave me the accordian file idea in the first place. Good enough for them, right?

Another idea these organized, frugal friends gave me was taking out financial and other date-related papers at the end of the year and putting them in a large envelope labeled with the year. Then those papers are easily available for tax purposes.

Sometimes accordian files come with categories pre-printed on the tabs, and they don't always match my needs. (Ours currently has some that seem to overlap in my mind, so I never know if I've put papers in one or the other of those sections.) I plan to relabel the tabs to suit my our particular needs.

marina said...


I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for sometime now. I love how your posts truly connect to your readership. I’m interested to have an interactive/link-up/post with you. I’ve written a book that you and your audience might enjoy and am preparing to do a virtual blog tour and would love an opportunity to participate on your blog.

However, my young adult book ‘Turtle Feet, Surfer’s Beat’ is only a small part of what I’m trying to build. The book itself revolves around a typical suburban teen girl, Penelope, from the States that is forced to go to Costa Rica with her parents for her father’s job assignment. Involuntarily, her parents sign up Penelope and her little brother to spend two weeks at the Leatherback turtle biological station (for ‘their own good’). Penelope, obviously isn’t pleased but forgives the horrid accommodations and the never ending bug brigade as she sees the turtle and instantly pledges to do all she can to help it from extinction. But hang ten, dudes! Penelope is about to get help. One lonely night, as she’s patrolling the beach for turtle poachers she stumbles and falls directly into the arms of the local surf champ. Together they dive into the world of surfing and marine preservation.

These days, we are constantly facing global problems that seem to be getting worse and worse daily. Living in Costa Rica, I’ve been inspired to take action. I started by writing this book and am now developing a community of teens, surfers, artists, scientist, and everyone else who is interested in working together to have fun while helping out.

I would love to join forces with you and your readers in a fun, interactive way. I will gladly write a post about your blog (and whatever you will like to plug:), plus a link with your blog to my website and blog, in return for a short interview and mention on your blog.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon. To start we can link up!
Thanks so much,

Katie said...

Gavi! Thanks for posting about the Carbon Conscious Consumer (C3) campaign!

This month C3 is providing people with ways to liberate themselves from junk mail. Simply go to to pledge your commitment to anti-junkmail and to fill some online forms to be sent to the biggest distributors of junk mail. (This should help you opt out of about 90% of your junkmail)

For anyone who takes the pledge to their reduce junk mail at encourages the most people to do the same--you can win a TOTAL HOME MAKEOVER from Clutterbusters Professional Home Organizors to help you simplify even more! to pledge!

ps-The current leader in the contest simply posted their personal c3 link on their Myspace page after taking the pledge. You could do the same on this very blog and be in contention for the prize!!

THANKS and Good Luck!

Jenny said...

How are you doing Gavi? You haven't blogged in a while.

Shushan said...

that reminds me - I need a new shredder.

As for old important papers. I gather them into boxes, and label the era. double check said box after a few years, seeing if there is anything still relevant in it - and then tell myself I really will get rid of it 'next time' lol

Yes, paper clutter is a pain!

Susan in Va (SHS)

melanie said...

i recently found a this site

for free you can opt out of any catalog you choose, they will contact them for you.

Anonymous said...

I took the easy way out on this and signed up for a membership with and was able to stop almost all the junk mail that came to my home. I was able to make a coice of what came to my mailbox and what didn't. The good thing was I received feedback within 48 hours when the stuff was stopped. I got out of all the weekly coupons, Credit Card offers, Catalogs and misc junk mail. I was even able to stop the paper phone books. It was quick and easy to make my choices. It does take time for the mail to stop flowing in, it's a process but it did stop.

Anonymous said...

I took the easy way out on this and signed up for a membership with Myjunktree and was able to stop almost all the junk mail that came to my home. I was able to make a coice of what came to my mailbox and what didn't. The good thing was I received feedback within 48 hours when the stuff was stopped. I got out of all the weekly coupons, Credit Card offers, Catalogs and misc junk mail. I was even able to stop the paper phone books. It was quick and easy to make my choices. It does take time for the mail to stop flowing in, it's a process but it did stop.
Sorry wrong link

Anonymous said...

I happen to be one of the owners of MyJunkTree and as a new company I search the web to see if we are getting any visibility out there and it seems the word is getting out. Thanks for the support.

We launched the company because we were tired of all the junk mail we were receiving and we personally did not want to bounce all over the web to contact all the different companies to stop it all. First and foremost we wanted to let people choose what they wanted to let come to their home knowing that some people really do like some of the coupons and catalogs. So our clients choose what they want stopped.

We also had to provide a service that is different than the other services out there, so here is what we offer:

1. We have a database of over 1300 catalogs that you can choose to stop.
2. We have over a 2000 charities/Non-Profits that you can stop solicitations from.
3. Stop the delivery of the national phone directories.
4. Stop the delivery of the weekly coupons.
5. Stop the general credit card offers as well as the ones from your own major bank.
6. Stop the miscellaneous junk mail from the data brokers.
7. You can register on the National Do Not Call Registry from the website.
8. You can order your no strings attached free annual credit report right from the website.
9. We plant trees with every new membership.

And, yes we are a paid service and yes you can do everything that we do for free, if you want to do all the research and spend the time contacting the companies yourself it can easily be done. We have just done all of the legwork for our clients and feel there is value in the service we provide.