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How to stop receiving junk mail through your letterbox

Updated on August 6, 2013
Collection of junk mail
Collection of junk mail | Source

I'm sure we all get annoyed by the mass of paper junk mail that comes through our letter boxes. It is such a waste of paper, and gives us more junk to deal with in our homes. Here's what to do when the junk mail gets too much to handle.

This week I'd had enough, I heard the postman pull up outside the house, trot down the garden path with an armful of mail and push it all through my letterbox. I was expecting some important mail, so skipped off to collect it - only to find an array of colourful glossy fliers advertising everything from hearing aids to double glazing, scattered across my doormat in an untidy heap. Disgustedly, I scooped it all up and, as usual, threw it all into my paper recycling bag. I am not interested in advertising mail one bit, and resent the fact that it is shoved through my front door, forcing me to deal with it. If I wanted double glazing I would search online for local companies and make my own choices, I don't need all those bits of paper littering my home.

I tried putting a sign on the front door, clearly stating "No Junk Mail, please", and for a while that worked, apart from when my regular postman went on holiday, and eventually the writing on the sign faded, and it became illegible. Then the junk started pouring through again. I need a more permanent solution.

I did not know until recently that the UK Royal Mail operate an opt-out scheme, whereby you can register not to receive any unsolicited mail - that is, any mail that is not addressed to a person or "the occupier" at your address. I have just sent them an email, requesting the opt out option, and they have sent a form which I have to fill out, sign and post. This choice will continue for two years, after which it will need to be renewed. It is relatively simple to do, but not very widely publicised, which is why I decided to share it with you. The web link is here if you wish to do the same. The Royal Mail are paid to deliver advertising mail, and I'm sorry if it helps to pay the postman's wages (although I suspect that the shareholders' profits are the main motivation), but I don't want it delivered to me. The Royal Mail website was actually quite helpful, and also gives the address of the Mailing Preference Service (MPS), who can remove your address from databases that are used by companies that send out advertising mail.

Waste of resources

It's not just the personal inconvenience of having to deal with it that bothers me, it's the sheer waste of resources that go into the production and the delivery of this rubbish, only for me to throw it straight back into the recycling heap to be taken away and re-processed into more rubbish. It is really quite absurd.

I guess there must still be people out there who pay attention to this mail, and all the useless products that they are trying to sell to us. It must somehow be financially profitable for these companies to use this method of advertising. I know, not everybody has access to the web, and companies need to sell their products somehow. But everywhere you look there are giant billboards, advertising on the sides of buses and bus shelters, newspapers and magazines are at least 50% advertising, and television adverts always seem to be louder than the film that you were trying to watch. Web advertising is a huge business too these days, but doesn't inconvenience us as the consumer quite so much. They are all competing to get us to spend our hard earned wages on things that we probably don't really need. Surely we have reached advertising saturation point.

And what of the paper? Maybe a percentage of it is printed on recycled paper. But there is plenty that isn't - paper is made from trees, so somewhere trees are being cut down to produce some of this junk. Then there are the inks, the production processes and fuel used for delivery. Not to mention the recycling costs. All of this has an impact on our precious environment, so it is up to us to vote with our feet and stop the mountains of junk mail that are piling up in our homes and on rubbish tips.

Summary action plan

1. Put a notice on your front door, clearly stating that you don't wish to receive any unsolicited mail (or junk mail)

2. If that doesn't work get in touch with your postal service to see if you can opt out, as with the UK's Royal Mail opt-out service.

3. Try registering with the Mailing Preference Service.

4. If all else fails, write "Return to Sender" on every piece of rubbish that comes in the post, and put it back in a post box, or send everything back in the reply paid envelopes that have come with the junk mail.

How do you deal with junk mail?

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    • profile image

      SusieQ42 3 years ago

      Leaving a note doesn't work? Oh well, we can always give it to the neighbors...

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Very useful hub and I think it concerns all of us!

      You made some important points here. We are living in an age when everything is communicated by means of advertisements. Its difficult to avoid it but thanks for suggesting some ways to restrict it.


    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 3 years ago from East Coast, United States

      It amazes me how much trash comes in the mail. I am especially not fond of the letters that come in my name and look official but are just people trying to get me to switch my insurance. Then we have the company that wants us to sign up for a service that we already have, with them! Every week I get at least 2 pleas for us to sign up with the same company.

    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      In our country we have an option to buy a small sticker which can be put on the mailbox and it works pretty good. Unfortunately sender of junk mail are growing their bases of addresses very fast, so this sticker can only reduce junk mail. I guess aggressive advertisers will always find a way to send you an offer you can't resist;)

    • Imogen French profile image

      Imogen French 4 years ago from Southwest England

      Mike - I make my contribution every time I buy a stamp, or pay for post office services.

    • profile image

      Mike 4 years ago

      "I'm sorry if it helps to pay the postman's wages (although I suspect that the shareholders' profits are the main motivation), but I don't want it delivered to me."

      So would you rather contribute to the payment of the postman's wage?

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      I am on it! lol! junk mail drives me to insanity! especially all those huge poster things with pizzas on them! and of course all the please give this and don't forget that! great advice!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Imogen, thanks for the information. Didn't know of the opt-out form either. Very thoughtful of you to share.

    • penlady profile image

      penlady 4 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      This is some good advice! Junk mail is very annoying - just as much as spam mail. Why won't they just leave us alone and let us make our own buying decisions?

      Thanks for this informative hub. Voted up, useful, and sharing.