Category Archives: Project Simplify

Junk mail and PaperKarma

Topic of the day: Junk mail. I know, exciting, right?

Junk mail, which includes retail catalogs, soliciting brochures, and those pesky pre-approved credit card offers, is a huge source of trash and waste. Consider this pile of mail below…

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Out of the 3 inch high stack of mail, 90% of it (or all 3.75 inches of it) is going to end up in my recycling bin. Even though I’m recycling it, can you imagine how much raw resources were used to create these things that we automatically toss without a second thought? And also how much energy and resources have to go into recycling the paper products that didn’t serve any useful function in the first place?

Because I hated the thought of that and I hated sorting through ginormous piles of junk mail just to get to the important stuff, a while ago I started calling companies to PLEASE STOP sending me those stupid, useless, wasteful catalogs, brochures, and credit card offers. First off, even with my initial determination, it got pretty daunting. While some companies have their phone numbers printed on their mail, others didn’t and so I had to go searching on the internet for a phone number to call. Once I had the phone numbers, I had to jump through hoops and numerous automated options just to get a live person on the phone. Then I had to explain to them that I didn’t want their junk mail anymore and a lot of times they asked for customer numbers, name, address, etc, which became a long winded phone conversations. In essence, NO BUENO… After going through the first batch, I lost some steam. It was pretty discouraging that it was that time consuming and inconvenient just to get people to NOT send you stuff. Seriously?

Then I found out about PaperKarma. What a godsend. It’s a free mobile app and basically, all you have to do is take a photo of the “offending piece of mail” and PaperKarma does the leg work for you by contacting the companies and unsubscribing you from their distribution lists. No more time consuming phone calls to make!

Here’s how it works in PaperKarma’s own words:

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In less than 24 hours, out of 34 requests, I had 20 successes, 4 pendings, and 7 fails. The failed requests were my fault though. Being a PaperKarma newbie and despite clear instructions to include the name of the company in the picture, I didn’t and therefore they didn’t know who to go to with the request. So don’t do what I did!

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Less trips to take the recycling out, less mail to sort through, less junk mail produced, less raw materials used, less useless marketing $ spent by the companies, less work for the postal service, I say it’s a win-win-win-win. Definitely try it out!