Stop the junk mail

Written by terrapass


Visit the Direct Marketing Association’s website. You’ll need to register your name and address. The DMA will then remove your name from catalog lists of its members. It also has a link to help you remove your name and address from credit card and insurance offers.

**How this helps**

The amount of unsolicited mail and catalogs Americans receive each year consumes trees (an estimated 100 million!), water, energy, and money.

**More information**

– Visit
– Sign the petition for a Do Not Mail registry.
– Greendimes guarantees to stop junk mail and they pay you to try them out!

**Related tips**

– Ask businesses and organizations that you support to send you less mail.
– Recycle your paper.

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  1. Mommy2Twinkies

    Is it possible to still get a couple of catalogs? Some I appreciate getting, but for the most part I’d like to stop them.

  2. Peter

    Please also check out This site enables you to choose among the myriad catalogs. The site notifies those marketers whose catalogs you do not wish. It keeps a list of thoser you’ve declined, and yopu can “opt in” to any of those at any time. Many merchants have joined this site.

  3. Dan Estabrook

    Thanks for the shout out on GreenDimes – please let me know if you or your readers have any questions about using the service. You might also want to check out our blog, Tonic News, where we run occasional tips/tricks for maximizing junk mail elimination (

  4. Will

    Check the comments on catalogchoice’s site before signing up– looks like a lot of people have found it to be a frustrating experience, and not necessarily effective. And of course, it only handles catalogs.
    In the long run we’re going to need something that’s actually enforceable: a national Do Not Mail Registry. It would impose real fines on junk mailers that continued to stuff your mailbox with their waste, while you could still receive mail from those with whom you have an ongoing business relationship.
    And it would greatly reduce the deforestation which accelerates climate change.

  5. Alex Censor

    That site is better than nothing but frankly is a pain in the ass to deal with (they make you join [register] before can even begin to deal with them. DMA clearly does NOT want to make it EASY for people to opt out of junk mail.
    Evidence for this: If you opt out of all junkmail on line they charge you $1 to do so. If you mail in your opt out request it’s free. Obviously it costs them MORE to handle paper opt out requests than web-entry ones, so the only really credible reason for the $1 charge it to inhibit people from opting out the easy quick way.

  6. Pete

    @Alex — I’m confused. Have you checked the site recently? I went through the whole process before I wrote this and didn’t have to any money.
    It’s true that you used to have to pay, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore.
    Yes, you do have to log in. But I’d rather my address details were kept secure, so I’m not so worried.
    @Mommy2Twinkies — the dmachoice site lets you pick between your catalogs so you can even pick some new ones if you like (which I’m guessing is what they’re hoping for)

  7. Alex Censor

    Pete wrote —
    “….It’s true that you used to have to pay, but I don’t think that’s the case anymore.”
    I stand corrected.
    Thanks for catching my obsolete info on this relevant detail.
    I still think if they were really serious about wanting to make it easy for people who don’t want junk mail to opt out (as would be a service to the public AND the mailers they supposedly serve (because NO mailer wants to pay for sending out ads that just get thrown in the trash or recycle bin unopened) they would have that right up front with no hoops: Enter name and address and click one button. Done.
    Their existance depends on there being lots of junk mailing going on so they fundementally have a conflict of interest.

  8. Will

    We might want to consider a broader phase-out of this outdated practice.
    Deforestation accounts for 20% of all global carbon emissions– more than all trains, planes, and yes, automobiles combined.
    30% of all the mail delivered in the world is US junk mail.
    Do the math– phasing ourselves out of direct mail would be an excellent and relatively painless way to take a large step toward reducing our national emissions. We’ve all been looking for solutions. Why not start here?
    I signed the petition at

  9. Alex Censor

    Hey Will,
    Not that I have different info, but do you have a reference or link for that number that 20% of all greenhouse gases come from deforestration? And if so, does that count just the immeadiate CO2 released when the area is disturbed/deforested, or does it include the loss of the CO-absorbing ability of the now-missing forest?

  10. Adam Stein

    The 20% figure is fairly standard. The IPCC reports use the same figure.
    That said, the big issue for climate change is really rainforest destruction. It’s not clear (to me) how much U.S. junk mail has to do with pressure on rainforests in Brazil and Indonesia. Stopping junk mail has a number of environmental benefits, but I don’t know whether this is one of them.

  11. Will
    Yeah, this Reuters article of last week cites the 20 percent figure. Deforestation is second to fossil fuels as the leading contributor, but contributes more than the transportation sector alone.
    Adam, it is true that protecting Brazil and Indonesia’s forests are critical to protecting the climate, but the northern Boreal forest, including Canada’s Boreal where much US junk mail comes from, stores more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem on Earth.
    A national Do Not Mail Registry would be a fairly easy step towards protecting this beautiful carbon-absorbing instrument for the future.

  12. Laurie

    Just a note about something I’ve been irritated about that may be relevant to this discussion – I’d like to point out that when I became a member of a well-known environmental protection group, I was incredibly disappointed and a little embarrassed at the amount of “junk” mail (requesting donations) that I began receiving from other environmental/wildlife protection organizations. Has anybody else experienced this? Is there a way to stop this as well? To avoid being considered a hypocrite, I think that this category of “junk” mail needs to be thrown into the mix as well.

  13. Colleen Connell

    I own a mail-order catalog company and have direct experience with both the DMA and Catalog Choice (as well as experience talking to people who want to be removed from our mailing list). If you just get a few catalogs that you don’t want, the most effective method is to contact those catalogs directly. But if you are being bombarded with loads of different unwanted catalogs, the best approach is to use both and
    I recommend over the DMA’s service, but if you want to be sure to have your opt-out request honored, you should use both sites.
    Also, whenever you place an order with a mail-order catalog company or subscribe to a magazine, you should request that they not rent or share your name with any other company. allows you to choose which catalogs you don’t want to receive at all; it also allows you to choose the frequency of catalogs that you do like but that you may be receiving too frequently.
    Originally the DMA and many members of the catalog industry opposed Catalog Choice, but I am among a growing number of merchants who think that they are performing an extremely important role for consumers, the environment, and even for the catalog industry itself. Due to the DMA’s opposition, Catalog Choice got off to a slow and controversial start, but more and more merchants are cooperating with them every day.
    The DMA is finally starting (very reluctantly) to see the light and they have modified their opt-out site to be more like Catalog Choice. The problem is that only the merchants who are members of the DMA can access the list of people who have opted out of receiving their catalogs. So if you opt out on the DMA site but the cataloger is not a DMA member, they will not know that you requested to be off their list. Likewise, if you opt out on Catalog Choice’s site, only merchants who are cooperating with Catalog Choice get that data. As more and more people use, more merchants will use their service and it will become more effective.
    Also, please be aware that it really does take up to three months to get someone off a mailing list, so you need to be patient. The list for any given mailing is prepared weeks if not months in advance. If you are still getting unwanted catalogs after three months, I would recommend contacting the catalog directly and requesting again — and tell them to use the Catalog Choice and DMA Choice services!
    As far as the environmental impact of the catalog industry, there is some honest dispute about that. Yes, there is a lot of paper involved (catalogs are 5% of the US mail stream), but when you buy things by catalog, you aren’t driving to a mall that might be quite far away, or driving to many different locations to find something special that isn’t available in a mall. UPS, FedEx, and the USPS are very energy-efficient. So it is a more efficient way to shop, both in terms of time and energy efficiency.

  14. Chuck Teller

    Great post and even better comment thread.
    Chuck here from In just one year, over 1 million households have established accounts with our non-profit mail preference service. It is not perfect yet, but as Colleen says, the merchant community is steadily coming on board. The big issue that many merchants have is what are we (the preference service provider) going to do with the names.
    At Catalogchoice we warrant in our license contract to only provide the names to the companies that the member has made a mail preference request for. We have developed an excellent Merchant License agreement that provides the framework for a working model right now.
    Like carbon credits, the system is voluntary… but now that we have gotten beyond the attacks of the DMA and garnered the cooperation of the merchants, we are seeing this voluntary model improve every day.

  15. Steven

    To stop junk mail I been using, it provides me with a central location in which I can stop the junk mail and solicitations from more than 1300 catalogs and more than 5000 charity/nonprofit organizations, credit card companies, banks and data brokers, and stopping the delivery of national phone books. This green site also will plant trees with each new membership. As an added convenience you can sign on the Do Not Call list and get a copy of your credit report.

  16. Maxym

    Thanks for the post.
    You can also sign do not mail petition ( like Do Not Call National Petition)
    I did some search online and this is the best resource so far available online ( correct me if I am wrong). I have done this 5 months ago and my mailbox is literally empty ( I have paperless billing and also opted out from various mail lists) I check my mail twice a month now. It is beautiful. ( What a freedom).
    I even took the letter from samples provided and wrote it to a local Chinese restaurant that keeps putting fliers in my door. They stopped too in the whole subdivision.
    Save the time for yourself.
    I even opted out from the yellow book. What do I need it for, since the internet is right here.

  17. Tim

    If you want to do more than just Stop Junk Mail that comes to your home, this site might also be of interest to you. Stopping Free Papers. It is a free service and they help you stop the delivery of all the free papers that are thrown in your driveway. The site is sponsored by MyJunkTree and it is totally free!