While recycling is a better option than throwing out junk mail, reducing unwanted mail is the best option.
Control your exposure
The most important thing you can do to keep your name off junk mail lists is to control your exposure. Think about how often you give out your contact information on product warranties, professional associations, publication subscriptions, contest sweepstakes, writing checks or shopping online. Remember to consistently add a privacy statement to anything you put your name on asking not to be added to their mailing list.
Register with the Direct Marketing Association
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is a national trade association for companies that send direct mail. Register at their website DMAchoice.org to remove your name from catalogs, magazines and other mail offers.
For each of these categories, you can choose whether or not you want to receive mail from companies one at a time. Or, if you prefer, you can choose to stop receiving mail for all companies you haven't purchased from or donated to within an entire category. Any choices you make will be effective for five years from the date you make them.
In order to be a member of this organization, businesses must agree to honor the mail preference requests submitted. However, this only applies to businesses that you have not done business with already. If you have previously ordered from a catalog or shopped at a retail location, they may continue to mail offers to you. To reduce this kind of mail, you need to contact those companies directly and ask to have your name removed from their list.
The nation's major consumer credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, Innovis and TransUnion) offer a website and a toll-free number to remove your name from pre-approved credit card offers. You will need your social security number, name, address and phone number to make the request.
Phone: 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688)
To remove your name from lists to receive phone books, visit www.donttrashthephonebook.org.
Additional ways to reduce unwanted mail
By registering with the DMA and the credit bureaus you will see a significant reduction in junk mail in about 3 months. If you want contact information for ways to reduce national mailings such as Val-Pak or sweepstakes, or for a list of companies that will do the work for you for a fee, see Hennepin County's factsheet or www.Reduce.org for more ways to reduce junk mail.
Smartphone users can download apps to be taken off solicitor's mailing lists. Apps, such as PaperKarma, enables users to simply snap a picture of an unwanted piece of junk mail and press "send" to become unsubscribed from the mailing list that generated it. For other app options, search app stores for "stop junk mail."