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Video:Rid Your Life of Junk Mail

with Jonathon E. Stewart

Do you find your mailbox jammed with a bunch of unwanted junk mail every time you open it? Check out these tips to stop the flow of junk mail coming to your door.See Transcript

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Transcript:Rid Your Life of Junk Mail

Hey guys - Jonathon Stewart here for About.com. Now, everybody knows that you sleep about a third of your life away, but did you have any idea that you'd spend a cumulative 8 months of your life opening junk mail? And that's even taking into consideration that nearly half of all junk mail is thrown away unopened.

But take a look at these junk mail enders and save some time for yourself, and one or two of the 100 million trees that are destroyed each year in the process. Check it out.

Which Mail Is Junk Mail?

Junk mail comes in a few common forms: catalogs, credit card solicitations, direct mailing advertising, and solicitations from miscellaneous locator services and advertisers. Basically, if you've ever bought a car, rented a home, registered to vote, joined a club, used a credit card, subscribed to a magazine, sent in a warranty card, had your address forwarded by the post office, or donated to a charity, then you've probably had your name and address rented or sold to a direct mailing advertiser.

Remove Your Name From Catalog Lists

Start by tackling the issue directly first. If you receive catalogs regularly from the same company or companies, call up their 1-800 number and ask that you be removed from their mailing list. Especially given the recent rise in access to high speed internet connections, where you can easily check out what's new at JCrew or Victoria Secret or LL Bean, who needs these ubiquitous paper catalogs jamming your mailbox?

Eliminate Credit Card Junk Mail

Credit card offers are controlled mainly by the credit bureaus, which routinely sell not only your name and address to banks and loan offices, but also their judgment of your credit-worthiness. To opt out of all future offers, go to optoutprescreen.com and fill out their standard form.

Just remember that these organizations are the ones responsible for selling and renting your info, and aren't looking out for your best interests - they're providing this service because they're required to by law. But just be careful as you read over anything you authorize, and you'll be good to go.

Remove Your Name From Mailing Lists

You might also choose to remove yourself from the Direct Marketing Association's database, which is responsible for routing a large amount of the remaining types of junk mail your direction. Simply follow the instructions on their website at dmachoice.org, but again, remember - these are the bad guys too, so read carefully.

Sending Back Junk Mail

Some people advocate writing "refused" or "return to sender" on your junk mail and sticking it back in the mailbox, but just know that these pieces actually rarely make it back to the sender, and instead are thrown away at the post office. If a postage paid return envelope is enclosed, it can be fun to ship a bunch of junk mail back where it came from, but just know this, too, just gets tossed and doesn't actually land on the desk of the evil man that's been sending you junk mail all these years.

Recycling Junk Mail

Instead, be sure to shred any sensitive information, and take this stuff straight to your recycling bin. This way you can ensure what happens to it, and allow your other efforts, and the collective efforts of others, to reduce the amount of waste being perpetrated by direct mailers.

Renewing Opt-Out Requests

Unfortunately, most of these opt-out requests are only good for five years, so you might want to mark the calendar for when to get in touch with them again. But hopefully by then we'll all be wearing lycra jumpsuits and zipping around in flying biodiesel cars and not giving a hoot about junk mail anyway. Just maybe.

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