My War Against Unsolicited Mail

Jun 11, 2021 | Activism, Reducing Waste

I am in a war against unsolicited mail. Naturally, we have a NO JUNK MAIL sticker on our letterbox so we don’t have to deal with supermarket catalogues, take-away menus and the like. Real estate agents still seem to think their ‘property evaluation offers’ are not junk but that is a different story. The unsolicited mail I’m talking about is the addressed mail sent to us by charities and art unions and the like who have bought our details from a list or somehow otherwise obtained our information.

Photo by Family Footprint Project

Battle Tactics

Often these pieces of mail contain some rubbish piece of merchandise like a notepad or a pen. I’ve even been sent a reusable shopping bag (plastic) and recently 25c taped to the letter within the address window. I used to open unsolicited mail and appropriately recycle and dispose of the contents figuring that sending it back through the mail only adds to the carbon footprint. But they kept coming. I moved to a simple ‘return to sender’ on the front of the envelope hoping the message would get through. It didn’t. So, for a while now I’ve been writing a more extensive message on the reverse of the envelope.

My message varies depending on the sender, and for my own (polite but direct) amusement, but it is always along these lines…

“Please remove me from your mailing list. Please consider more sustainable and environmentally responsible promotional activities.”

Tip: Recently I received a piece of address mail that didn’t have a return address. They are getting very sneaky! The address was not immediately evident on the organisation website either. The place to look, in this case, is something like the privacy policy. This official document nearly always contains the organisation address.

Why bother?

While some of the charities are very worthy, I will not support organisations that market to me in environmentally irresponsible ways. I think it is important to let them know that their business model is harmful to the environment.

Unsolicited mail harms the environment not only with the physical material of the mail (be it paper with or without plastic) but also the energy used to produce and deliver it. I’m not sure what return on investment this marketing strategy has, but I’m sure that the environmental impacts are not in the calculation.

What do you do about unsolicited mail? Want to join the battle?