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Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change

Eliminating Junk Mail


Allison Madison

When I moved into my house four years ago, catalogs and junk mail flooded my mail stream. Most of this mail wasn’t even for me! The bulk of it arrived addressed to members of the previous household, and even the owner prior to them.

The average American receives 41 pounds of junk mail a year. The greenhouse gases produced from the harvesting, processing, and transportation of this material are equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions of 9 million cars or 11 coal-fired power plants.


It took me months of phone calls to curtail most of the junk mail. I still receive a blue envelope every few months from a “psychic” friend of the bachelor who had passed away in the house years before I moved in. I’m a bit confused as to why, even if the psychic’s crystal ball didn’t predict his passing, it hasn’t become clear in the intervening seven years.

While I don’t have any great advice for communicating with soothsayers, I guarantee you don’t need ESP to cut your junk mail and carbon emissions with the following online opt-out lists:

1) Catalogs
Cancel multiple catalogs at once with Catalog Choice, a non-profit organization managed by the Story of Stuff. They forward your opt out request to any merchants that you select. (Note: If you haven’t watched the original “Story of Stuff” 20-minute movie yet, it’s a must-see.)

2) Credit and insurance offers
Use the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website to opt out of credit card and insurance offers. You can choose to opt out for 5 years or permanently.

3) Valpak
Remove your address from the Valpak mailing list. On their website you can also search for local coupons and save them onto your phone.

4) Additional Junk Mail
The Data & Marketing Association allows you to stop the direct marketing that you don’t want, junk mail, for 10 years. There is a $2 fee to register on-line and a $3 fee if you register with a mail-in form.

Good luck in reducing your junk mail load and associated greenhouse gas emissions!


Allison Madison

Allison Madison


Allison has studied and taught sustainability for many years. From her native Wisconsin, she has ventured out to mountain ranges and lakeshores across the country and back again. She writes for the Dane County Office of Energy & Climate Change to give readers food for thought and actionable suggestions to be a part of the county’s work to address climate change. Together we can forge a better future. Together. Dane County.


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