Don’t you just hate all the junk mail you find in your mailbox? The worst of it is the stuff that’s not even addressed to me. Grocery store flyers, insurance ads, and all that trash. The building management has a recycling bin right beside the mail slots because I gather others are just as unhappy about it as I am. I’ve always thought Canada Post had quite a racket going because they get paid for delivering this stuff and we can’t stop it.

Imagine my surprise in learning they’d only like you to think you can’t stop it. For more than ten years now, Canada Post has allowed you to opt out of receiving unaddressed junk mail, and they’ve been doing a great job of keeping it quiet. Quiet until Beth Ringdahl, my new hero, decided to get the word out. She’s spending $3500 of her marketing company’s money to spread the news. I don’t see this as a selfless act on her part because she’s getting all sorts of publicity from it, but stopping this mail is such a great thing that I still think she’s terrific, in addition to being a fine marketer.

Don’t expect miracles though. Opting out will not stop the junk mail addressed to you. Even some unaddressed just mail will still be delivered, but it’ll be limited to things like election notices, community newspapers, as well as newsletters from your provincial and federal representatives. Ringdahl’s site, Red Dot Campaign, includes a letter you can print, fill out, and leave with your letter carrier. They take it away and a number of weeks later, a red sticker is placed on your mailbox and the junk mail largely stops. It seems too good to be true but I’ve left such a letter in my mail slot for my letter carrier so we’ll see what happens.

The CBC article in which I first read about this states the latter carrier will apply a sticker while the red dot campaign site says you should do it yourself. I’m going to wait to see what happens with no action on my part. The main reason is I do not have a colour printer and it would be an immense hassle to beg the use of one. Part of me would like to anyway because the images provided on the red dot campaign site include the URL so my neighbours would get the news as well. Perhaps I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, I’ll report on any developments.

The timing is curious because I’ve been keeping all of the unaddressed junk mail I’ve received since the beginning of the year, thinking it would make for quite a photo at the end of the year! I’d be even more happy to have no more to add to the pile. I’m fully aware of the environmental aspect to the issue, but I’d simply rather not get the junk if I don’t even look at it. It’s wasteful and an annoyance.

As I mentioned, this will have no effect on junk mail addressed to you, by name. To reduce this other form of unwanted mail, visit the Canadian Marketing Association website and click the Do Not Contact Service link. Sign up and all member marketing organizations will stop sending you junk mail, faxes, and they’ll stop calling you. Not every marketing organization is a member, but you should notice a significant drop in these annoying contacts. Just be aware that the CMA’s service expires every three years so mark it on your calendar and sign up again before the three year mark.

What really annoys me is Canada Post’s damage control in the form of this ridiculous statement from spokesperson Lillian Au:

From our studies, 98 per cent of people want to receive unaddressed ad mail because we are delivering important information — government information, information about their community

People don’t give a crap about that stuff, even ignoring the fact that Canada Post will deliver this ‘important’ stuff anyway. Because 98% of the people continue to receive unaddressed junk mail doesn’t mean they knew of the option and decided against it. I’ve mentioned this to a few people and none knew that Canada Post allows such a thing.

But now you know.