Reducing overall household waste is more important than ever given the abundance of packaging used during the pandemic plus the increasingly restrictive Asian recycling market with greater export requirements for processing. Here are a few steps to reduce the amount of paper that your household generates.
STOP JUNK MAIL—it is not only annoying, it creates 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gas annually. And nearly half of that ends up in the landfill unopened.
You can ask online to be removed from direct marketers by clicking these links: Direct Marketing Association and Catalog Choice. These are both nonprofits whose main goal is to rid the world of paper junk mail. Their service is free, and they will contact companies on your behalf and ask them to remove your name from their mailing lists. Be patient as this may take 6 to 8 weeks.
At both of these sites you must choose which catalogues to discontinue. A good way to prepare for this is by storing unwanted mail in a basket and then, once a month, visit these sites and enter the names of marketers. If you don’t find their names listed, you can email or call the companies and ask to be removed from their mailing lists. If there isn’t an email or phone number but there is a postage-paid return envelope, tear off the mailing label and enclose it in the envelope along with a request to be removed from their mailing list. Mark envelope “ATTN: Customer Service.”
Also visit Epsilon Data Services—a company that collects consumer data that is used by marketers and advertisers. There you can submit a deletion request at Consumer Request Form by selecting the “Delete my personal information” option.
Click here to stop delivery of the Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer. You may opt for email instead.
Valassis is a widely received coupon circular. Click here to unsubscribe from their print mailers. It can take up to 6 weeks, so again, be patient. Val-Pak is another major coupon mailer. To opt out, click here.
To stop receiving pre-screened credit card applications and insurance junk mail, call 1-888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com. Note that your social security number is not required to successfully complete this. Learn more via the Federal Trade Commission.
GO PAPERLESS. Many service providers and local utilities now offer paperless/email invoicing setup through their website. Also, consider options for automatic monthly payments from your credit card or bank and/or online bill pay through your bank to eliminate unnecessary mail. Contact your local doctor and dental offices and any other local services that send bills or statements to your mailbox. Ask them to add you to their electronic list and remove you from the paper mailing list.
Your credit card company probably sells your name the most often. Call and ask them to stop. Also make the same request of your bank and any other companies from which you purchase products or services on a regular basis—for example companies who sell you magazines, phone, gas and electric services.
Product warranty cards are often used to collect information on your habits and income, for the sole purpose of targeting direct mail. They are not required in most situations—avoid sending them.
Also avoid filling out “contest” cards—these are almost always fishing expeditions for personal information.
To stop delivery of yellow page books, look for instructions near the front of the book. You can opt-out online from receiving your local AT&T or Dex Yellow Pages here.
Whenever you donate money or order a product or service, write in large letters: “Please do not sell my name or address.” Most organizations will properly mark your name in their computer.
Switch to online news and magazines.
If you would like help with reducing your junk mail, PaperKarma may be of service for for a small fee.
SHARE THIS ‘STOP JUNK MAIL’ INFORMATION. When visiting family members or friends, offer to help get them off mailing lists, especially older adults.
COMPOST PAPER. Plain paper, newspaper and, shredded paper are all compostable. If you don’t have a backyard compost bin, take advantage of the City’s $40 Home Composting Rebate Program. And remember, do not put shredded paper, even when bagged, in your recycle bin. Shredded paper causes problems in the recycling system because the paper strips are too small and light to be separated during the sorting process.
For more waste reduction tips and information, please visit cityofsantacruz.com/recycleright.