Best Ways to Stop Junk Mail and Control Catalog Clutter

You’d think that with all the online shopping everyone does, we’d be receiving far fewer catalogs and a lot less junk mail. But somehow, all those envelopes, circulars, and catalogs still seem to show up, unrequested and very much a nuisance.

Here are Care2′s best suggestions for putting an end to any unwanted mail, and a couple of my own.

1) Use the enclosed postage-paid envelopes or reply cards to send back a “cease and desist” request.- This is really easy. All you have to do is scrawl a “Please take me off your mailing list ASAP!” message across the card or the mail piece and put it right back in the mail.

2) Contact the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) -Register for the DMA’s Mail Preference Service, then opt out of national mailing lists. Doing so puts your name and address on a “do not mail” file. All DMA members are required to run their list of prospective customers against this file and remove individuals who have registered from their mailings. This list is updated monthly and distributed four times a year. It should take about three months after your name is entered on the quarterly file to see a decrease in the amount of mail you receive.

3) Check before you submit product registration cards. – Product registration cards don’t necessarily provide any actual benefits to you. A warranty gives you service and performance protection. But a product registration card might actually go to companies that want to market similar products back to you. Before you complete a product registration card, see where it will go. According to this Care2 article, many of these actually go to a post office box in Denver, CO, where Equifax Direct Marketing Solutions picks them up, compiles consumer information from the forms, and then sells the information to other companies for marketing purposes. If you must register your product, complete only the relevant information on the card, such as your name, address and product serial number. Leave blank requests for information about hobbies, travel habits, and other consumer activites.

4) Beware of sweepstakes and prizes. – When you sign up for a free sweepstakes or prize, you probably won’t win. And then, you’ll lose again when you start receiving junk mail from whatever companies your contact information was sold to. Feeling risky? Buy a lottery ticket where you don’t have to provide your mailing info. If you want to stop getting promos from Publishers Clearinghouse, starthere.

5) Stop receiving pre-approved credit offers. – I must receive four or five pieces of mail every week that are trying to get me to open a new credit card. I have just called (888) 5OPTOUT (888-567-8688), the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry Opt-in/Opt-out number to take my information off their lists. NOTE: You will need to provide your social security number and date of birth to do this.

6) Cancel catalogs. – There are two ways to do this. One is to call the toll-free customer service number on the catalog and ask the operator to remove your name from their lists. The second is to register for free with a group called Catalog choice. Once you opt out of the catalogs you don’t want to receive, Catalog Choice will work to get your opt-outs processed. The non-profit group works with over 8,000 companies and the largest data brokers to make this process as efficient as possible. (You can also try returning the catalogs to whoever sent them, but the post office might notactually take them back.)

7) Nix Val-Pak – Almost every week, a small blue packet of coupons shows up in my mail box. Until now, I had no idea how to stop them. I was happy to learn from Ronnie Citron-Fink in this Care2 article that I can remove my name from their list here.(For online coupon sites and e-newsletters, check out Groupon, Retail Me Not, Living Social, or The Krazy Coupon Lady.)

8) Get rid of Red Plum – This is a sales flyer that shows up at least once a week unrequested. It offers everything from discounted pizza to deals on window washing – none of which I’ve ever used. To get rid of Red Plum, go here.

9) Don’t sign up for mailing lists when you shop – Sales staff will ask if you want to receive “special promotions,” but that could mean sales fliers and catalogs from unrelated companies. Just know that any time you sign up for a store’s promotions and coupons, you’ll probably receive many from other stores as well.


12 Tips to End Clutter
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Haley K
Haley K.about a month ago

Hey Diane. Great post! Thanks for sharing. I have a few questions regarding the article. Would you mind shooting me an email at I'd really appreciate it! Hope to hear from you.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Angela K.
Angela K2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Carole R.
Carole R2 years ago

Good ideas. Thanks.

Sarah H.
Sarah H2 years ago
Thanks Diane, I also feel strongly about this. As a graphic designer, I know we are part of the problem – it's not all up to the consumer, designers need to be advising their clients about a more responsible way to market.

Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

What paper I don't shred, I will recycle. Thanks for posting.

Tracy Marotta
Tracy Marotta2 years ago

PaperKarma app is also an excellent way to get rid of unwanted mail by taking a picture of the envelope and the app unsubscribes for you.

Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

I agree with Marie--recycle!! Thanks for posting.

Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago


Kathryn Irby
Past Member 2 years ago

I learned one thing! Once your credit scores jumps higher than it's ever been before, you will get bombarded by loan companies, wanting you to take out a loan with their company!! NOT!! I just shred it!! I shred a lot so I can donate the paper to my local humane shelter for the animals' kennels.