Friday, 15 August 2008

Junk the junk mail

Junk mail in the US is causing carbon emissions of 51,548,000 metric tons annually, according to pressure group Forest Ethics. That's equivalent to 9 million cars or 11 coal-fired power plants. Their report, Climate Change Enclosed: Junk Mail’s Effect on Global Warming, claims that almost half of the carbon impact of junk mail comes from deforestation and 1% comes from emissions during printing. There is a small carbon benefit – burning waste paper to create energy returns 1% of the total, because it's more carbon efficient than fossil-fuel based energy. It's worth noting here that the term "junk mail" defines items sent through the mail that the recipient doesn't want or need - the numbers quoted above are bound to include both wanted and unwanted items.

So, what do you do with your junk mail? Dump it in the recycling bin (or, worse still, the waste bin) - or unsubscribe? The easiest way to avoid receiving direct mail which is personally addressed to you is to register with the Mailing Preference Service. And since March this year, the Direct Marketing Association has also offered the Your Choice scheme to opt out of unaddressed mail. It will only protect you from mail drops by DMA association members, but it's a start.

If senders persist, you need to let the sender know that you don't want to receive future mailings. Preparing self-adhesive labels to attach to packages and return them to sender with an explanation is probably the least labour-intensive method. Yes, I know the transport impact of the returned package needs to be taken into account but if it’s sent via the normal mail system this is negligible and at least it will prevent further impact from unwanted mailings. There are more useful tips at

1 comment:

William said...

I signed the petition for a Do Not Mail Registry at