Home   »  The Junk Mailers

The Junk Mailers

You know exactly who they are. They fill up your mailboxes with the  paper waste that you don’t want and never asked for. Whether it’s a financial or insurance company or a catalog retailer, nearly every American agrees: junk mailers are annoying. But these corporate culprits are doing so much more than wasting your time.
Tell some of the worst junk mailers to stop their intrusive and destructive practices >>

Junk mailers invade your privacy

Names and personal information are sold from junk mailer to junk mailer, without consent. What’s more, massive amounts of junk mail bearing personal information makes you more susceptible to identity theft.

Junk mailers destroy the environment

100 million trees are logged each year to produce the unending stream of junk mail that ends up in your mailbox. The paper is often sourced from destructive logging operations in some of the world’s most ecologically important forest regions, including Canada’s Boreal Forest, the US Southeast and Indonesia’s Tropical Rainforests.

Junk mailers are greenwashing their garbage

Many junk mailers deceptively market the paper they use as green using the bogus “Sustainable” Forestry Initiative” (SFI). These misleading claims undermine the hard work and smart choices of companies that are making a sincere effort to be environmentally responsible.

Our challenge to junk mailers

We want junk mailers to step up and be part of the solution to create an industry-wide change. Some of the considerations we value strongly are
  • Strategies to reduce paper use overall. By offering consumers a verifiable and free option to decline unwanted direct mail, reducing the size of catalogs, switching to lower weight papers, maximizing online ordering, and prohibiting the buying or selling of people’s names or personal information without their permission, direct mailers and catalog retailers can reduce the amount of paper used.
  • Maximizing the use of recycled fiber in direct mail and catalogs.  Direct mailers should utilize 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) content, or the highest percentage PCR content available. The availability and high quality of papers with recycled content have created a great opportunity for catalog and direct mailers to improve their paper procurement policies.
  • Avoiding the purchase of paper that comes from Endangered Forests, illegal logging and other controversial sources. Endangered Forests are critical to maintaining biological diversity, ecological integrity and environmental services globally. They merit protection from industrial logging and development.  In addition, junk mailers should avoid paper containing pulp from areas where forest ecosystems have been converted to plantations or non-forest uses, or where indigenous peoples’ rights are being violated.
  • Supporting responsible forest management. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is internationally recognized as the most credible certification system for identifying and certifying responsible forest management practices.  Using FSC-certified paper products supports these responsible practices. Promoting phony green programs such as the “Sustainable” Forestry Initiative, on the other hand, weakens support for responsible practices.
  • Citing a preference for papers that are derived from clean production and minimize air and water pollution. 
  • Joining other leading companies and organizations in making more environmental papers available and overcoming obstacles to transforming the way paper is used and made, thereby helping to create a sustainable and competitive paper industry in North America and around the world.
Tell some of the worst junk mailers to stop their intrusive and destructive practices >>

Direct mail leaders and laggards

Some companies are leading the way. For example, corporate leaders such as Limited Brands, Williams-Sonoma, and Dell have made vital commitments to improve paper polices and practices that we believe the rest of the direct mail industry can follow.

In December 2009, we released our 4th annual Naughty/Nice List evaluating the practices of the direct mailing industry. 21 companies, including companies in the financial sector, were evaluated according to four criteria: whether or not Endangered Forests are cut to produce the company’s catalogs; whether the company uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper; the amount of post-consumer recycled content in the company’s direct mailings; and the company’s efforts to reduce overall paper consumption.