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Reducing your Junk Mail

Three simple steps that can, with a little perseverance, reduce the amount of physical junk mail you receive by 80-90%!

The average North American adult receives around 41pounds of junk mail each year.  When you consider the population of North America, sitting at around 530 million, the environmental impact becomes staggering.  Worse still, only 3% of junk mail is ever read!  The rest of it is immediately discarded, with the vast majority of it bypassing the recycling bin and going straight into the garbage.

Maybe you are not an environmentalist.  But did you realize that receiving lots of junk mail – particularly preapproved credit cards and financial ads – increases your risk of being victimized by identity theft?

Regardless of your take on the environment, junk mail is just plain annoying.   It eats up your valuable time and clutters up your home or office.  But don’t despair!  You can take action today to remove yourself from mailing lists and protect your valuable personal information.

At Buttonwood Property Management our Core Values play a key role in our day to day operations and in the service offerings we bring forward to our clients.  In support of these values, and in our effort to continuously improve, we are suggesting these simple steps to promote green and environmentally sustainable practices and lower your risk of identity theft.

Step 1:  Opt-Out of unaddressed ad-mail

Canada post is legally obligated to deliver all mail that is personally addressed to you, but they will respect your wishes if you let them know you don’t want to receive unaddressed junk mail.  Simply place a note on your mail box (if you get door-to-door delivery) or on the inside the lip of your community mailbox or PO box.    You can download lots of cute ‘no junk mail please’ stickers online, but a simple hand written note is just as effective.  (It’s a good rule of thumb to use waterproof packing tape to secure your note, just in case!)

Unfortunately, Canada Post is only responsible for about 25% of the unaddressed junk mail delivered to your home.  Door-to-door flyer delivery companies are much more likely to disregard your ‘no junk mail please’ requests, but if you have the chance to speak with your carrier directly, a polite personal request may go a long way.

If you are a condo resident, particularly in high or low-rise buildings, you may be able to pass a by-law preventing flyer delivery companies from accessing your building.  If unaddressed junk mail is a real problem where you live, you should bring the issue before the board.

Step 2: Remove your name and information from common mailing lists

While our neighbors to the south have access to a range of services to do the leg-work for them, these services have not yet ventured north of the border.  If you want to reduce or eliminate the junk mail that is specifically addressed to you, you will need to take the time to contact each company that sends you spam and ask them to stop.

Sounds like a daunting task?  I won’t lie; this step takes effort, organization and diligence.  But these actions protect your privacy while reducing your junk mail.  It’s a win-win!

Your best bet is to create a place where you can store all your unwanted mail and once or twice a month call all the companies and ask to be removed from their mailing lists.  You will likely have to call the same company more than once, so be patient but persistent.

Here is a list of resources and suggestions to help you get started:

  • The Canadian Marketing Association offers a free Do Not Contact Service.  It takes a while for your name to filter off their lists and I’ve heard mixed reviews about its efficacy, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to sign up and give it a try.
  • Equifax and Trans Union may be another good starting point.  You can opt-out of all pre-approved credit card offers for a set time limit, restrict the privacy of your personal information and ask to be removed from all relevant mailing lists.
  • It is a good idea to contact all companies with whom you have financial dealings and all the service providers you work with.  Restrict the privacy of your personal information and request that they do not sell or rent your name or contact information to anyone, including their partners or subsidiaries.  Remember that companies are allowed by law to buy and sell your personal information without your consent unless you specifically request that this information is kept private.
  • Sign up for epost to have all your bills consolidated into a convenient digital form.  This is an easy way to reduce your paper usage and simultaneously make life more convenient.  You also avoid the unnecessary envelop stuffers that come with your monthly bills.

Step 3: Be a savvy consumer

If you follow a few simple steps, you can keep your name off most mailing lists and protect your privacy.

First, be aware that most sweepstakes, contents and product warranty cards are tools marketers use to collect your personal information.  Be very selective about which ones you fill in.  Warranty cards are not required in most situations and declining to fill them out does not nullify your warranty.

Second, when you sign up for a service or order from a catalog, get in the habit of requesting that companies refrain from selling your name or contact information.  You can also ask that your name not be added to their mailing list and request that they do not send you any promotional material.

Finally, it is a good idea to remind the companies and services you do business with about your mailing and privacy preferences on a regular basis.  Once or twice per year should do the trick.

All these steps take a little time and effort, but your pay-off is less junk mail, a reduced environmental footprint and greater control over your personal information.

At Buttonwood Property Management, we continuously evolve our processes to maintain the highest environmental standards and we want to share what we learn with you!

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