HOWTO: Reduce Junk Mail (and spam calls)
July 20, 2012In response to my bit yesterday about telemarketers, The Most Excellent Anne Gray (Zer Netmouse)1 pointed out that she'd love to have a way to stop postal mail crap too.
And lo and behold, there is.
To recap (and make clear): When you get phone solicitations with a real person, the only response you give them is this:
Please remove me from your calling list and any calling lists you share with other companies. Place me on your do-not-call-list. Thank you.
Seriously. Don't say anything else. The phone calls will go down in frequency, but it takes a while.
Snail mail is a bit harder, simply because of the time lag. Also because nearly every magazine sells their subscriber list, the asshats 2. You can start with Catalog Choice (they're legit), but it doesn't get everyone by a long shot.
There used to be a service called "Junkbusters" that had a wonderful template for the equivalent of the above anti-telemarketer script. They are, unfortunately, defunct.
Luckily, I have a copy of that form, which I am making available to you. Whenever you get the junk mail (preferably the postage-paid kind, but take the effort with those who want a stamp too).3
Fill out this form with the appropriate information (they've already got it, after all) and stuff that sucker in those return envelopes. Mail those committees who don't give you a return envelope. Do this religiously for six months. (Also, stop subscribing to magazines and putting your real address in for free offers.) Your junk mail will decrease dramatically.
There's some that will never be completely gone - voting rolls are public, for example, so they can re-harvest your address - but it reduced mine by 90%.
[Edit: The above is now also available as a gist, which means you can easily clone your own copy if you have a github account.]
The form is available through a shared Google Document, here, or Min.us, here.
1 Worth noting that I've appointed that title; IMHO, she deserves it as being one of the three most harmonious human beings I've had the pleasure of knowing.
2 Yes, Analog, Asimov's, Utne - this is why my subscriptions lapsed. Hope that quick buck was worth it.
3 Side note: Postage paid means you can affix that to a fracking BRICK and mail it back. Reserve this for those who don't pay attention, as it annoys the postal workers, whom I have the greatest respect for.