Five Great Ways to Declutter Your Mail Box | The Hole in Your Door – Not the Electronic One!

Reduce Junk Mail

So with the excitement of GDPR behind us, and the world waking up to just how much junk mail they have in their lives, I decided it was time to concentrate on the hard stuff! After all, in terms of resource, paper junk mail uses a vast amount in terms of cost, production and delivery. Worst of all, most of it goes straight in the bin!

I’ve always been fairly diligent about returning letters addressed to previous occupiers or people no longer at my address. By simply marking them as ‘not known at this address’ and popping them into a post box, the sender should remove that person from their database saving themselves money, and the rest of us resource and effort!

I also contact companies I no longer wish to receive white mail from as and when I receive it. There are strict laws covered under the Consumer Protection Act and now General Data Protection Regulation, which means that companies have to adhere to certain processes to be sending their customers or prospects anything. Sometimes shopping online can prompt an onslaught of catalogues or letters, because you’ve accidentally opted into something or not opted out. The recent GDPR has tightened this process up and you have to have expressly ‘opt in’ to receive any communication not related to a particular transaction.

If you are receiving catalogues you are no longer interested in, please take the time to contact the originator and update your preferences. Companies contravening these regulations are also now liable to big fines so they should play ball! I often make a note of when I’ve contacted them, so that I can ‘remind’ them if I receive further mail from them.

To avoid receiving general marketing junk mail that is specifically addressed to you, you can also register with the Mailing Preference Service.  GDPR or not, mailing lists are still available to buy, and you may still receive mail you don’t want. Interestingly enough, when they ask you for your reasons for registering with the MPS, one of the options to tick is ‘environmental reasons’. The industry clearly isn’t blind to the environmental impacts of this terrible waste.

Companies sending direct mail and who are registered with the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) are expected to screen their own lists against the MPS. If you do receive mail from a company after you have registered with the service, you have a right to complain. It doesn’t, however, work for international mail.

For good measure, I also registered with the Telephone Preference Service to reduce the irritation in my life of PPI calls and the like. Again, whether that works for international call centres, I don’ t know but I really hope so!

As for the unsolicited, unaddressed items delivered by the Royal Mail via your postman, there is also an answer. It breaks my heart to receive so much mail in this way particularly from charities, which sometimes even includes unrecyclable items such as pens!  This week I received one from NHS Surrey updating me on what they were doing with my patient records. I wouldn’t mind, but I live in West Sussex, so there’s a triple waste thing going on there, with precious NHS money! The answer is to register with the Royal Mail not to receive these items – it is simple to do online. Within 6 weeks, your postbox should be considerably more streamlined and resource friendly!

I must confess that I still have an annoying necessity to receive paper bank statements – it must be an age thing! Whilst I am ashamed that I haven’t managed the transition to electronic on that score, where possible, I do switch to electronic bills and statements. I’ve also learned not to print things out to action them, particularly bills. I pay them online, and then just resave the online pdf with the word ‘paid’ in the title. It all helps!


  1. Return any mail not addressed to you, to the original sender marked ‘not known at this address’. You can just pop it back in the post box with no extra postage to pay.
  2. Register with the Mailing Preference Service to avoid any addressed marketing mail.
  3. Contact companies that are sending you marketing junk mail or catalogues that you no longer want to receive. They are obliged to stop sending it to you.
  4. Register with the Royal Mail not to receive any ‘unaddressed’ marketing circulars delivered by the postman.
  5. Change any regular mail you receive to electronic versions – this is a much more environmentally friendly way to receive your mail, and ultimately gives you more control.

I certainly feel better for this little housekeeping session! Like most people, I do love a letter, but the best ones are handwritten and to and from friends and loved ones! A far more valuable use of resource all around!


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