Reduce Waste from Unwanted Junk Mail

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Modified and reprinted with author’s permission

Save time and paper. Although much junk mail, including catalogs, windowed envelopes and advertisements, can be recycled, it is a worthwhile effort to reduce this waste stream at its source. Nearly 32 pounds of paper and plastic go into the garbage for every American. That’s a pretty sizeable “junked mail” problem!

Mail List Brokers and Marketing Associations. Households can significantly reduce their advertising mail by registering with the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service. It’s easy to register, and your registration will remain in effect for 5 years. Visit for online or mail-in registration forms.

The Polk Company provides lists for non-financial data. To be removed, call 1-800-464-7655 and request the opt-out extension.

To continue receiving catalogs or other mail from selected businesses, ask these preferred mailers to include you on a list for “in-house” use only-a list not sold or shared with others.

Credit Card Offers. The nation’s major consumer credit bureaus-Equifax, Experian, Innovis and Trans Union-offer a service to remove consumers from lists for pre-approved credit card solicitations. The services allow you to opt out for two years or permanently, and you can opt back in at any time. Either process will ask for your social security number, full name, address, and telephone number. Visit or call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (567-8688).

Catalog Choice. Registration is free at Identify the catalogs that you are receiving and would like to decline, and supply the customer number from the catalog. Catalog Choice contacts the catalog provider for you, asking that you be removed from that mail list.

Contact individual mailers. Not all companies use these national systems to purge their mailing lists. If you are still getting “junk” from persistent mailers, you can contact the company directly and ask to be placed in their “do-not-mail file.” Look at the mail piece to see if there’s a number to call, or write them a note, send them an email, or use their website. Have the mailing label or catalog handy to reference account or other numbers.

National mailers. These national advertisers compile and maintain large databases of customers nationwide, often for mailing coupons or local, weekly circulars. These materials are generally printed well in advance of mailing, so expect a delay of 6-8 weeks for this opt-out to take effect.

ADVO mailing Mailbox Values, ShopWi$e, RedPlum. Visit
or call 888-241-6760.

Val-Pak (Cox Target Media) visit Enter information exactly as it is printed on your Valpak envelope.

MoneyMailer, LLC visit
or call 714-889-3800.

Local services and utilities. Ask your local utilities and service providers-phone, gas, electric, water, cable, newspaper, banking and insurance-about their privacy policies to determine what information they will and will not share about you. Most companies will restrict what they share about their customers, but typically they will only do so if specifically told to. To further reduce mail volume, request electronic statements from your utilities by calling customer service or from the utility’s web page.

Public data from Minnesota state government:

State licenses. Minnesota law requires that names and addresses of persons or organizations licensed by the state be made available to the public. Specific lists of license holders and directories can be purchased through the Minnesota Bookstore. License holders can opt out of these lists by contacting the Mailing List Service at 651-296-0930 or by visiting

Motor vehicle data. All personal data is automatically restricted from any use except those authorized by federal law. Anyone who has no objection to the data being released for commercial or general uses may “opt-in” by indicating consent on their driver’s license or vehicle registration application.

Business-to-Business Mail. Businesses and institutions also receive a great deal of unsolicited mail, such as catalogs and advertising mail for products and services or mailings for former employees. In addition to the paper waste, this unwanted mail requires staff time for handling and sorting.

The Business Junk Mail Reduction Project offers information and tips to reduce unwanted business mail at

The Ecological Mail Coalition maintains a database of former employees to reduce business mail. Visit for information.

For more junk mail information visit

Junk Mail

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