Sometimes external forces make living minimally a challenge. One such force is the postal service. Every day a government employee drops off a new batch of clutter — and ironically most of this clutter is about convincing us to buy more clutter.
While cancelling your mail might be infeasible—if not impossible—there are a few steps you can take to significantly decrease the amount of junk mail you receive. None of these steps are immediate, and most require a bit of patience.
1. Opt-out of catalogs
The Data & Marketing Association is a trade organization that shares your data and mailing address with its member corporations. You can create an account on their website and pay $4 to opt-out of their lists.
2. Opt-out of credit and insurance offers
You can reduce your credit and insurance offers from Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion at OptOutPreScreen.com. They offer a 5-year opt-out online. Absurdly, you must print and mail a form to opt-out permanently.
3. Join the “National Do Not Mail List”
While not as official as it sounds, the National Do Not Mail List will remove you from DirectMail.com’s client corporations. The signup form is simple enough, as long as you feel comfortable giving your email address to a company whose primary business is spam.
4. Say goodbye to the Yellow Pages
This one may come as a surprise: you can actually say no to the Yellow Pages. YellowPagesOptOut.com will help you find your local distributor and provide instructions to opt-out. Easy!
5. Remove yourself from RetailMeNot & Share Local Media
Next time you get a book of coupons in the mail, take a look at the sender. It’s most likely Save.com (formerly RetailMeNot, which was formerly RedPlum). The good news: they make it painless to remove yourself from Save.com's list online. The bad news: if your mail carrier is as careless as mine, you’ll still receive the coupons—just with someone else’s name and address.
You can also opt-out of Share Local Media, which is used by Casper, Harry's, Grubhub, and Lyft among others.
6. See if this non-profit can help
CatalogChoice is a Berkeley-based nonprofit operated by The Story of Stuff, with a goal of ending junk mail. While their database is incomplete, they may be able to help with some of the larger offenders. At very least, it’s a noble cause worth supporting 🤗
7. Text photos of your mail to Mel
Mel is a little tool I’ve built with a simple value prop — unsubscribe from postal mail. Simply snap a photo of a piece of junk mail, capturing your address and the company name, and Mel will use a combination of automation and virtual assistants to contact the company and have you removed from their list.
There’s no app to install and no account needed. For $25/year, you can simply text photos of your mail to Mel and never receive solicitation from that sender again. The annual plan has additional benefits, such as completing steps 1-5 of this article on your behalf.