How to Stop Junk Mail to Your Business

Stop Junk Mail to Your Business!No time like the holidays to remind us how much needless waste clutters our mailboxes. Direct-mail outlets and retailers are in full force, sometimes sending two or three copies of 100-page glossy catalogs to the same business address. Not to mention all the credit-card offers, coupon packs and other unwanted solicitations businesses get – and inevitably toss – year round.

Environmental groups estimate that nearly 100 million trees get used for junk mail every year, and 5.6 tons end up landfills. So, how do you make it stop?

Traditionally, business owners would have to call or write the solicitors directly and demand to be removed from their mailing lists. And while that might still be a good strategy if there are a few main offenders, there are now places to turn for help.

Here are some options:

  • Third-Party Organizations: The Direct Mailing Association is the largest provider of direct-mail lists. You can request to be taken off their lists at their Web site or by writing and sending them a dollar in the mail.  You can find their mailing address here.
  • To stop credit-card and insurance offers you can call 1-888-567-8688 (that’s 888-5OPT-OUT) or visit OptOutPrescreen, a site run by the three major credit bureaus. You can choose either a five-year removal or a permanent removal.
  • CatalogChoice:  When it comes to catalog mailings, there may be some you want to keep and others you’d like to toss. CatalogChoice, a project of the Ecology Center in Berkeley , Calif. , lets users set up a free account and then choose which catalogs to opt-out of. (They keep a list of retailers promising to honor opt-out requests within 12 weeks, including WinterSilks and Crate & Barrel.) Catalog also offers extra features, such as switching to an online catalog subscription.
  • EcoLogical Mail Coalition: This organization’s Web site lets businesses remove former employees’ names from direct mailing lists. It’s free to businesses, as marketers pick up the tab.
  • Pay for Help: Want somebody to just take the whole cumbersome process off your hands? Some companies make a business off removing names from mailing lists — but be aware that most only work with home addresses and junk mail addressed to a person’s name (not a business). Precycle, formerly GreenDimes, promises to stop “most direct mail,” including circulars, advertisements, and credit-card and mortgage offers to home addresses in 90 days. It’s not free: It costs a one-time $36, plus a $7 shipping-and-handling fee. The company sends customers two energy-efficient light bulbs and a reusable bag and plants five trees on their behalf. charges $41 for five years to help households control their junk mail.

Whatever you do, don’t rely on writing “Return to Sender” on junk mail to do the trick. Somebody else will likely throw it out for you.

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About the Author: Kelly Spors is a former small-business reporter and blogger for The Wall Street Journal and has also freelanced for Yahoo! and The New York Times. She is now communications and outreach coordinator for Energy Smart, a Minnesota nonprofit helping businesses save money through energy efficiency. Follow Energy Smart on Twitter @mnenergysmart.


Kelly Spors Kelly Spors is a former small-business and entrepreneurship reporter and blogger for The Wall Street Journal who has also written for Yahoo!, Entrepreneur, NFIB's MyBusiness magazine and The New York Times. Kelly is now a freelance editor and writer based in Minneapolis and has previously managed communications for an environmental non-profit that helps businesses find ways to be greener.

7 Reactions
  1. Is Twitter all it is cracked up to be as far as making money with it is concerned? I would like to try and build a Twitter base.

  2. Thank you–getting off junk mail lists is an ongoing process, and this info will definitely help! This is something we all need to do on a regular basis.

  3. It has got to be more than 5.6 tons that go to the land fill, one skid of printed glossy catalogs weighs 500 LBS. So we are talking 10 .5 skids?
    Otherwise it’s a great article.

  4. Returned, unwanted and undelivered mail produces vast amounts of waste paper and 80% of the carbon footprint for a piece of mail is in the ‘end of life’ solution.

    Often overlooked, ignored, or just not considered by companies that conduct direct mail campaigns, or by organisations who regularly send out large mailings is the responsible disposal of undelivered and returned mail, the ‘gone aways’.

    BSi Standard PAS2020, introduced by the Direct Marketing Association to highlight the industry’s commitment to helping the environment, demands a ‘producer responsibility’ for this ‘end of life’ solution. Any organisation that sends out large mailings is expected to show that they adopt best environmental practice, for both consumer and government confidence. Disposing of all the waste paper that is generated correctly and responsibly is an issue that must be addressed.
    Effective data hygiene should form the basis of environmentally considerate direct marketing. By adopting this practice, it can immediately reduce carbon footprint and achieve more-effective marketing whilst maintaining or even increasing revenues.
    Veridata in Chester addresses all these issues by providing a specialist, automated and quick turn around service for processing Returned and Undelivered Mail from anywhere in the UK.

    We capture the relevant information in an agreed format and give it back to our customers so that they can suppress, cleanse their database(s). We then destroy and recycle all the waste paper locally.

    Our service helps companies comply with PAS2020, Royal Mail’s Sustainable Mail, the EU Directive (1999/31/EC) on landfill and it addresses the issue of ‘producer responsibility’ that all waste paper generated is disposed of correctly.

  5. Cairns Hairdressers

    Paying a company to take you name off the mailing list is a great idea, it never occured to me that people out there did that service, Do you recommend any companies in Australia who do this?

  6. Two databases that businesses need to request removal from are:
    Dun & Bradstreet

    I also suggest that each business search their business info (current/past) in Google to make sure that everything is listed correctly. Be sure to add any incorrect info found to your Dun & Bradstreet & InfoUSA removal requests. Why incorrect info? This is the info these databases have listed for your company – help the poor sole(s) receiving your companies junk mail at these incorrect locations.

No, Thank You