Frequently Asked Questions about Junk Mail
Junk mail, aka unsolicited mail or direct mail, consists of all the credit card offers, catalogs, flyers, coupons, phone books, and other mailings you didn’t ask for and don’t want.
Junk mail comes at a huge cost to our quality of life. Sorting, reading, and recycling junk mail takes time away from your daily activities. Senders of junk mail endanger your privacy by sharing your name, address, and purchasing habits with marketers. Junk mail fills your mailbox with credit card offers and other mailings that could put your identity at risk if in the wrong hands. Junk mail also results in clutter, yet another blow against a simpler, less wasteful life. We have the power to reverse all of these negative impacts by simply choosing to receive only the mail we want.
Junk Mail Facts:
While digital marketing has no doubt exploded in recent decades, printed direct mail still accounts for billions spent in marketing dollars in the US. Here are some facts and statistics about the prevalence of printed direct mail in marketing today and its affect on our natural resources and climate.
In 2019, the United States Postal Service mailed 75.7 billion pieces of direct mail. Source: USPS Postal Facts
Catalogs mailed through the USPS amounted to 9.4 billion in 2017. Source: DMA 2018 Statistical Fact Book
Junk mail is truly unwanted: In 2017, only 2.9 percent of prospective customers (i.e., those who had not yet purchased anything from the direct mailer) responded to direct mail sent via USPS. Source: DMA 2018 Statistical Fact Book
The amount of junk mail sent via the USPS has increased by over 18 percent between 1990 and 2017. Source: DMA 2018 Statistical Fact Book
Junk mail continues to contribute to deforestation to this day. Source: Stand.Earth
The organization formerly known as the DMA (Data and Marketing Association), now known as ANA—the “largest and most influential advertising and marketing association in the world”—does not require the use of recycled content in the direct marketing materials of its members.Source: ANA
Many states are considering legislation to create “do not mail” registries similar to the current “do not call” lists. Find updates on proposed state “do not mail” registry bills.
Seattle, Washington, is the first US city to regulate the distribution of unwanted phone books. Residents and businesses can unsubscribe from phone books and distributors must honor these requests. Phone book distributors will pay the city 14 cents per book annually to cover the city’s costs for managing phone books, based on the product stewardship principle of holding manufacturers responsible for covering the costs to recycle their end-of-life products.
San Francisco, California, now requires phone bookscan only be delivered to residents and businesses who wish to receive the phone books, and prohibits the common practice of dropping unsolicited phone books on every doorstep in the city.