How to get rid of junk mail

January 18, 2008 1:38:14 PM PST
Did you know that more than 53 million trees are used each year to produce paper catalogs alone? Factor in junk mail and unsolicited credit-card offers and the waste keeps growing. Consumer Reports has some quick tips to help you get rid of unwanted mail and help the environment, too.

Every time Rachel Skinner takes a pile of catalogs out to be recycled, she cringes.

"I can get close to 20 catalogs on a day. I get furniture catalogs, lots of children's clothing catalogs. I get bed and bath catalogs. A lot of companies actually send me ? I'll get four different catalogs from one company," Skinner said.

What few people realize is that you can opt out and choose not to receive catalogs in the mail. You can even end those seemingly endless credit-card solicitations.

Urvashi Rangan of Consumer Reports Greener Choices says stopping the mailbox deluge is easier than you might realize.

"The Direct Marketing Association, which includes companies that send you catalogs, must take you off of their mailing list if you sign up for their 'mail preference service.' This includes subscription offers sent by companies like Consumer Reports," Rangan said.

All it takes is one dollar and a click of a mouse. Consumers can go to, then click on 'Remove my name from those lists.' There, they will find the one-page form to fill out to cut off the flow.

For anyone wanting to stop preapproved credit-card offers, one telephone call does it all. Just call 1-888-567-8688.

"A few years ago, consumers started realizing they could get telemarketers to stop invading their dinner hour by signing up for 'do not call lists.' Today, they're taking it to the next level and saying 'stop invading my mailbox, too,'" said Rangan.

Until you can get yourself off the mailing lists, you might want to take your cue from Rachel, who found a creative use for her many catalogs.

"I use some of the catalogs so the kids can cut out and make collages," she said.