Stop Junk Mail in 5 Easy Steps {and Tame the Paper Clutter!}

July 27, 2022

Easy ways to stop junk mail from filling your mailbox (AND reduce your paper clutter!)

Did you know you can control how much junk mail is delivered to your mailbox? These helpful tips that have drastically cut down on the amount of paper and junk mail we bring into the house. 

Is it me, or does the junk mail seem to be increasing lately? It's frustrating when our entire stack of mail goes right into the shredding pile or recycling bin.  

Some of these solutions time out eventually, so I like to readdress them every few years. It is SO worth it!

And if you have moved recently, your new address may be on lists that you can opt out of. 

You probably don't want to get the previous resident's junk mail, right? :)

Paper clutter has always been the thorn in my side, the pain in my neck, the fly in my ointment...and of course the majority of it comes from the mail:
pile of junk mail

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But over time I've conquered the paper clutter -- by stopping it from coming into the house in the first place. 

I'm sharing all of the easy ways I've reduced our junk mailings, unwanted catalogs and general paper STUFF over the years. These tips work and I promise your load will lighten if you try them yourself!

Step 1: Go electronic for bills.

The first step is to reduce the amount of paper that comes in the mail. If you can go electronic, do it! We've gone paperless with many companies, but still have a few to go.

I'm slowly going through the utilities, investment companies, bank statements and everything else we get on a monthly basis. 

I used to hesitate to get rid of the paper statements, but I'm slowly getting with the times. 

When I realized the only time we look at them is when we 1. open them and, 2. file them away to never be seen again...I decided it was time.

I can count on my hand the number of times I've had to look back at a utility bill in the past ten years. 

Bank statements are a biggie -- I think it's far more secure to store them virtually than on paper. (I know there are exceptions, but in general.)

Also, it takes mere seconds to log on to see a specific statement. I used to keep them all in the file drawer and that took a lot more time to dig through. 

Most companies will gladly switch you over and electronic files result in LESS MAIL. That is our goal folks!

Step 2: Unsubscribe from catalogs and junk mail.

You may not have heard of these sites, but they are extremely helpful to reduce the amount of mail you get. I'll go into detail about each option below...

1. Catalog Choice: Opt out of catalogs that come in the mail.

I looove a good catalog. They are my jam. But sometimes we grow out of them, just don't care to get them anymore, or get on a list we don't want to be on.

If this is the case for you, try Catalog Choice. This is a free service -- I've used it for years and it works! 

You'll have to create an account and then search through catalogs to unsubscribe from:
opt out of catalogs online

Within a couple months they will stop coming to your door!

I made the mistake of signing up for Restoration Hardware catalog once…if you've ever received one, you know their catalogs are ridiculously thick. I felt like I killed a tree every time they send one out. 

There are a few catalogs that require you to unsubscribe on their web site, but Catalog Choice provides a link directly to the page to do that. 

This is a great option to lessen the load in your mailbox and in your house!

2. DMA Choice/Do Not Mail: Opt out of junk mail

Did you know you can opt out of all kinds of offers and junk mail? It helps to reduce the direct mail you'll bring into your home tremendously. I use DMA Choice (Direct Marketing Association) for many marketing mailings. 

Sign in and you can opt out of bulk mail, credit card offers and magazine offers:
reduce junk mail DMA

This opt out service will last for ten years and now there is a $2 processing fee. That is new, but I would gladly pay that to reduce the paper spam! :) 

You can edit your choices at any time, but I choose to opt out of ALL unsolicited mail.

3. National Do Not Mail list: Unsubscribe from mailings

You can unsubscribe from very specific junk mail at the National Do Not Mail site: 

opt out of junk mail online

Choose exactly what you do and don't want to get offers on, or just check the "I do not want to receive any special offers" button to stop them all.

Can you imagine not getting a million political mailers before every election? That dream may be realized. :)

If they consent, fill out the form for your spouse or anyone else in the household as well!

4. Opt Out Prescreen: Stop all credit and insurance offers

Years ago credit offers filled up our mailbox. Then when we paid off all of our debt (and knew we wouldn't be opening new credit accounts), we knew we could do without them.

Opt Out Prescreen allows you to unsubscribe from prescreened credit and insurance offers easily and quickly:
opt out of credit offers junk mail
Consumer credit reporting agencies like Transunion, Equifax and Experian are required by law to honor your opt-out requests. 
You will need to provide your social security number, and there is an alternative option if you'd rather not send your personal information over the computer. 

Call 1-888-567-8688 instead. It takes about five minutes, and you can opt out family members as well (if you have their SSN). 

You'll have to opt-out every five years using this service, or they'll add your name back to the list. (Although it doesn't seem to last quite five years for me.) They do offer a lifetime option that needs to be mailed in.

Remember you'll need to do this for each adult in the home. Marketers focus primarily on women in the household, so even if just the female does it, it will help tremendously. 

5. A few more options to eliminate flyers that previous options may have missed:

opt out Valpak mailers
These five online options will dramatically reduce the amount of junk mail delivered to your home. Give it a few months to take affect.

Congrats, you just saved a tree! (Or two.)

And now my final tip for reducing the paper clutter in our home...

Step 3: Get rid of paper before you walk in the door.

My goal is to get rid of 90 percent of the mail before I even walk in the door. Most of the time it's 100 percent. ;) 

We keep large plastic bins by the garage door, one for paper recycling (mail without our name or account numbers) and one for shredding (everything else). 

The Sortera stacking bins from Ikea are a great option:
white recycling bin with lid
I remove the lids so I can easily throw stuff inside. 

When I keep up with getting rid of most of the mail before I even walk in the house, the paper clutter is kept to a minimum.

What does make it inside goes directly into a mail/paper drawer in our mud room:
drawer only lower cabinets

I've used different paper sorters and boxes over the years, but a dedicated drawer has been the best solution for us. We all know where to look for coupons, mail or school forms that need to be filled out. 

I sort through the drawer once a month to pay bills, complete forms and file items away.

If you implement these strategies, I guarantee the amount of junk mail will lessen and the paper brought into your home will be reduced within two to three months!

Do you have any tips when it comes to unsolicited mail or paper clutter? I'd love to hear them! 

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  1. Thank you for cluing me in to Catalog Choice and DMA Choice. I didn't know they existed so I'll be contacting them asap. Why do catalog sellers seem to believe it's ok to share their customers' names and addresses with third parties, when they have not been given permission to do so??? A single catalog purchase usually triggers an avalanche of unsolicited junk mail that persists for YEARS. It's mail that was never asked for and is not wanted. The practice is so common and annoying that I've stopped ordering stuff from catalogs altogether. I now buy whatever I can't source locally from Amazon, which thus far appears to have the good sense to keep its customer lists confidential. Catalog companies ought to wake up and smell the coffee!

  2. Thank you for taking the time to share this!

  3. great post, thank you sarah! subscribing to magazines also gets you on junk mail lists, even if you specifically ask them not to share (sell?) your information.
    one concern about the bin in the garage: privacy. once that junk mail is picked up by the trashmen, you never know who might see it. its good to remove any personal information from discarded junk mail, especially the credit offers. better to be safe than sorry.

    1. I believe it about the junk mail! We don't put the junk mail in the trash -- we recycle paper and shred anything with our address or info on it. :)

  4. I started a system a few years ago that has been incredibly impactful. I got a small (and pretty- so I don't mind it sitting on a shelf) file box. I made a few folders such as ads, current bills, shred, to file, and one for the kid's school. Each day I deal with all of the mail, either recycling or placing into one of these folders. When a bill comes in with confirmation that they received my last payment, I move the old bill to the shred folder. I shred once a week and file the "to file" folder once a month. This has dramatically cut down on paper clutter in our house!

  5. I still get the paper copies of bills & statements, but I have a home-based business so I still need a lot of the papers for tax documentation. Why should I have to use my paper and ink to print out the documentation? But, I've gotten smarter about retention. I have a "this year, last year, tax docs and need to save filing" system. The rest I am shredding after the tax returns are filed. And I get rid of excess paper asap. I have three small stacking buckets that I use - trash, recycle and shred.

    Re getting bills online - make sure you check your spam folder. My neighbor always had her credit card bill put in that bucket and had to pay late fees since she didn't see the bill. And, as you get older (like me), you may want to switch back to paper or make sure that your executors know your passwords to email and have a good checklist of emailed-bills. My sister/nieces would have no idea what I have outstanding if I don't leave a good trail. I was lucky in that both my Dad & Aunt left good trails for me to follow - Dad left me a binder of info.


  6. I've started to take the time to write "Return to Sender" on mail that I didn't ask for and putting it back in the mailbox. I don't know if those companies have stopped sending me mail yet, but I get a small bit of satisfaction knowing that now they get to take care of disposing of it and I don't have to. ;)

  7. Thanks for this. I recently started getting all of my dad's mail on top of what we already received, and I'm completely overwhelmed.

  8. I stopped almost all of my unwanted mail several years ago. Whatever I receive that has a "POSTAGE PAID" envelope is immediately filled with everything that was in the incoming envelope (Including that envelope)and I write in red marker, "NO THANK YOU" on the main enclosure and send it back to them. Since they have to pay the extra postage for all that paper they mark you off the list rather quickly. it works for me ! Alice

  9. Wish I knew how to not receive so many unknown phone calls. Especially, the ones that want money. They are worth causes, some of them, but we can't give to ALL of them. Thank you for the help with unwanted mail.

  10. Those bins are PERFECT! I am searching for them NOW but haven't been able to locate them at the Container Store website. Any chance you know the name of them or the ones from Ikea?

  11. Aha! I found them!

  12. Something that has worked SO well for me is to walk directly to our recycling collection bin at the side of the house from the mailbox. All the junk that doesn't need to be shredded goes directly in there and never makes it into the house. The stuff that needs to be shredded goes into my purse and I shred it at my office (so I don't have to keep a paper shredder at the house and deal with the mess and disposal of the shredded paper). Because we have switched mostly to electronic billing, that leaves a very minuscule amount of paper that has to be dealt with - life changing! Thanks for all the tips on unsubscribing - I am going to sign up there as well!

  13. I would really like to sign up for the opt out but they require you include your social security number? This doesn’t sit well. Any way around this?

    1. There is an automated phone number you can call too! I added that to this list. :)

  14. Thank-you! This was one of the most informative and helpful blog posts I have ever received!


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