Some days when I go to get my mail, I think to myself that it just couldn't be possible for me to get any more junk mail in my mailbox, but apparently the post office wants to try. In an effort to increase revenues and save the postal system, the U.S. Postal Service is attempting to strike an agreement with a direct mail company called Valassis (the company that creates RedPlum discount packs), which could potentially increase the amount of junk mail that American homes receive from the average of six pieces that is common today.
The deal stipulates that the USPS will give Valassis a substantial discount off of its mailing costs, provided the company agrees to increase the amount of junk mail that it sends out. While this will help the postal service raise more than $107 million, the environmental impact could be devastating. And the USPS' decision to subsidize junk mail rather than small business parcel shipments, which would have made it more competitive against Fedex and UPS, is questionable at best.
As it stands now, junk mail already destroys 2.6 million trees per year and adds 1 billion pounds of trash in landfills annually. While the fate of the Valassis-USPS deal is in the hands of the court system now as the Newspaper Association of America fights to stop it, there are some things you can do to make a difference.
1. Opt out of RedPlum coupon circulars so that you won't receive any of the junk mail packets. You can do so by completing a form on the Valassis website.
2. While you're at it, visit the Direct Marketing Association website and use their DMA Choice program. This lets you choose what type of direct mailings (if any) you receive from member companies.
3. Stop credit card offers by visiting OptOutPrescreen.com. You can choose to stop offers for five years or permanently.
4. Report suspicious mail offers for things like loan consolidations, sweepstakes and charities that just seem fishy. The FTC makes it easy to file a complaint. When you report potential scams, you're not only helping cut back on the paper waste that these ads create; you're also helping to protect vulnerable members of your community from potential criminals.
5. Share this post with your friends and family, so that they can cut down on their junk mail, too.
Paperless Kitchen wants to know, "How much junk mail did you receive today?" Post a comment and tell us about it!