Eco-entrepreneurs

Published on April 3rd, 2008 | by Paul Smith

11

How To Make Junk Mail Go Away – Free

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junk mailJunk Mail. Two words, a lot of impact. 100 million trees worth annually in the US, along with the resources used to print them, plus the resulting additional emissions generated carrying them around to their final destination, your mailbox. What to do, aside from recycle?

The first option that may come to mind is the well advertised Green Dimes service. It does indeed seem to do a great job at reducing mailings, up to 90% in three months, and they plant 10 trees for you while they’re at it. I do have a qualm with tree planting however, as it’s recently been shown that this popular eco guilt reliever has also resulted in the displacement of people in places like Uganda that tree planting companies want to make use of for this now increasingly lucrative business. But I digress…

Green Dimes would seem a fine option, but for one thing – there’s a better one out there. One that costs nothing (vs $20) and goes further to take you off telemarketer lists as well. Who? ProQuo. And how is it that they’re free? ProQuo no junk mailThey offer a service that you can choose to opt in for catalogs you’d actually like to receive (what a concept!) for which they make a profit from the catalog companies. And they only make these offers if you request they be made. Shocking, I know.

But does this mean they share your private information with third parties in general? In a refreshingly non-qualified statement, they say, “ProQuo will never sell, trade, transfer or otherwise share your information with third parties without your express consent — ever.” I’ll be interested to see how well this business model works. But for now, consumers have a simple, free option to do about that daily annoyance that arrives unbidden in their homes each week.

While you’re waiting for your junk mail to reduce, have you made any creative reuse of it? What other ways have you found to effectively minimize paper use, and mail receiving in your home or business? An interesting option you could combine with this to not even receive mail at all is Earth Class Mail.



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About the Author

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums. For more on GreenSmith Consulting, see www.greensmithconsulting.com He also writes for Triple Pundit www.triplepundit.com



  • Will

    Regarding your point about receiving the catalogs you’d like to receive–

    If you are really aware of those outlets from whom you’d like to receive a catalog, aren’t you equally aware of how to google their website?

    Might it make the most sense for commerce and the environment to forgo the millions upon millions of catalogs and simply shop online? This strikes me as a business innovation worth embracing in the face of massive waste.

    What you describe as ProQuo’s model seems to support a model that 1) keeps us in a somewhat wasteful frame of mind, and 2) is prone to misunderstandings and loopholes that could be quite convenient to direct mailers.

    Donotmail.org has a petition calling for a national Do Not Mail Registry along the lines of Do Not Call. Those Americans who are ready to move beyond an obsolete and wasteful practice deserve that choice.

  • SV Nagappa

    Why should anyone pay for getting rid of junk mail? here in Australia we can put a no junk mail sign on the letter box and people wont deliver junk mail. As for people who get junk mail in the postal mail. Just write to the company and by law they have to stop the e-mail. Re creative use, use it with compost bin and you will get good fibre for composting. Just tear it up and add to the compost bin.

  • http://ecopreneurist.com Paul Smith

    Good points both of you. Will, people don’t have to choose to get catalogs, and I’m presuming many of them won’t. But for some, like the difference between reading a book in paper for or on a computer, they’d rather the tactile experience of the first. Beyond catalogs, however, there are as you know, millions of other potential mailings that could arrive to you, and why not have a company that’s familiar with them all do it, rather then you using your time and energy tracking them all down?

    SV, that’s great that you can do that with the mailbox sign, but even better, why not prevent it in the first place, and eradicate your private information from being exchanged, without your permission, with multiple data brokers? I’d recommend both of you take a look at ProQuo’s site, see what they’re about. They really seem to be a consumer advocate, above all.

  • http://www.adaringadventure.com/blog/wordpress/ Tim Brownson

    Just followed a link here from http://cleantechnica.com/2008/04/22/happy-earth-day-to-you/#comment-371 and glad I did.

    Thanks a lot for the heads up on ProQuo. Before I moved to the US I was on the do not mail national database back home in the UK. It worked brilliantly and I was getting almost zero junk mail. I have been amazed by the crap I have been bombarded with since moving here getting around 10 pieces of JM per day! Quite frankly it’s insane.

  • http://www.ecopreneurist.com Paul Smith

    Awesome, glad we could help. Stay tuned…

  • Tim Henry

    I used the services of Myjunktree and they did everything that ProQou does and more. I was able to stop the delivery of phone books and all the unwanted catalogs I was getting. The good thing is I was able to choose what I wanted stopped and what came through. I also was able to order my free credit report from thier site, I found accounts still open I thought I closed ages ago. One stop shopping at its finest.

  • http://yahoo naomi barlow

    I have read things I never knew before.I know paper comes from our trees,but if this is true they shouldnt be allowed to use our trees to waste on junk mail or other things that are wasteful.All I want is the junk mail to stop please.thank you for your time

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  • http://www.myadminmail.com/ Rony Arnold

    One of the big problems for businesses today is getting junk. There are few ways we can rid of them like virtual mail management and mail forwarding online.

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