A delivery truck brings a little pile of garbage to my house almost every day of the week. I gather up the daily piles of garbage and put them in a large container until it's time for a different service to take it all away.

Yes, I have a garbage delivery service and a garbage pickup service. I'm just the middleman. I would like to say that my role in all of this feels life-affirming. But it doesn't.

The garbage delivery service sometimes goes by the name United States Postal Service. The garbage itself goes by the name junk mail. I don't think there is legal way to stop the garbage deliveries. I think every home in my country is legally required to have some sort of mailbox or mail slot. I would look it up but I use all of my free time prepped the incoming garbage for the outbound leg of its trip.

The other day I had an idea for cutting out the middleman (me). What if I forward all of my incoming mail to my local garbage dump's address? That way the Post Office could deliver my garbage to its final resting place without experiencing the purgatory of my kitchen.

I think this could work.

Sometimes, hidden within the little piles of garbage that come to my house, I will spot a letter that looks important for one reason or another. That's why all of you need to join me by forwarding your mail directly to your local garbage dumps. If we all do it, people will lose hope that their letters are getting through. As a general rule, you can't experience progress until someone else loses hope. So let's speed that along, okay?


My new book is How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life. It’s my best work.

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Nov 11, 2013
The USPS is a disrupted industry, now carrying just a fraction of the mail they once did. They're just hanging on. Package delivery will probably die off eventually also, as 3D printing slowly ramps up. That should provide enough buffer for most in the delivery industry to retire.

Another disrupted industry will be highway patrolmen. What will they do when self-driving cars make citations a thing of the past? There will probably be holdout citizens who want to drive their cars no matter what the insurance costs. But underworked patrolmen will wait in packs at the end of their driveways, trying to be the first to arrest them. Could get very ugly.

Nov 11, 2013
Here in the Netherlands we've solved this many years ago. You can get special stickers from the municipal to put on your mailbox, the so-called "No No" stickers. This way you will not get an unaddressed mail, spam and advertising. The 2nd "No" is for opting out of regional news papers.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 11, 2013
For those that heat with wood, it's free fuel! But I took your point Scott, and signed up for some electronic delivery of bills.
Nov 9, 2013
PaperKarma is a free smartphone app that tackles this problem in an elegant win-in manner.
Nov 9, 2013
The problem may probably be due to your postal charges being too low.
Even if junk mail is essential to subsidize the post-office, I suspect that there will be a point where increased postal rates will reduce the quantum of junk while bringing in the same amount of revenues.

Nov 8, 2013
This blog entry reminds me of this comic:

I do believe the United States Postal Service is an important service even in modern times. But they have been running low on useful mail and have been kept busy with Junk Mail.
Without the Junk Mail, would it still get enough funding to continue?
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 8, 2013
Where I live you can put a little sticker on your mail box that says "No spam", and it works. One time the sticker fell off, and I was spammed. I enjoyed it for a week, but then it was just to much. If only there was a limit to it. Maybe I can buy a tiny mail box and leave it sticker free.. But then my recent purchase from Amazon wouldn't fit in it.

On that related note, I'm reading How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, and loving it. It's interesting, and very well written. The text flows much easier into my brain than this blog, so you can tell someone have been working hard on the text. Recommended! Thanks, Scott!

[This blog is usually my first draft, or close to it. The book is something like a twelfth draft. It's good to hear that the extra eleven passes made a difference. Thanks for reading it! -- Scott]
Nov 8, 2013
I see 2 good options. Either a mailbox that leads directly into a compost heap for the greenies or a mailbox that empties into a trashcan. I wonder if it was obvious to the postman/woman that it was emptying directly into a trashcan whether or not they'd keep throwing it in.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 8, 2013
Guilty secret...though hardly Rob Fordian...I like the weekly flyers. I look through them to see what's on sale that I might need. I target my grocery shopping based on which store has what on sale. I then make a point of stopping at that store to buy the sale items (often the loss leaders), since I'm bound to be close to it at least once in the coming week. I also get gift ideas from the non-grocery flyers.

I like the system we have. The flyer company has posts placed along the roads near subdivisions or gas stations where it hangs bags of flyers, and those who want them pick them up.
Nov 8, 2013
"As a general rule, you can't experience progress until someone else loses hope."

I'm adding that to my Inspirational Quotes list.

Nov 8, 2013

If there is a pre paid envelope, you fill it with the junk that does not have a prepaid reply. That way you can dispose of all your unwanted mail. And make sure everything is stapled together, the auto mail handling machines really do not like that.

Thanks to Maddox for this idea.
+12 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 7, 2013
If your junk mail has a "no postage necessary" return envelope that says "postage will be paid by addressee", you can send the junk mailer back their envelope and let them pay for the privilege of disposing of it.
+8 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 7, 2013
I've always wanted to try a mail forwarding loop, where you take 3 or more addresses, in different post offices, and forward from the next to the next until it hits the original address again.
Nov 7, 2013
That's an awesome idea, but how would you do with the bills and government letters (DMV/IRS/Jury duty)?
Another idea would be a mailbox with a scanner doing the triage.
It would throw all the crap into a connected garbage sack and deliver the important stuff in a small separate box. Then it would email you whenever you got real mail so you know you need to go there.
It could also warn you the sack is almost full or you could pay a monthly subscription fee so someone would empty the sack automatically for you and recycle it.
When in doubt, it would send you an email with the image and then you'd say yes or no and it would learn to recognize similar stuff next time.
Nov 7, 2013
I suspect the Postal Service will be kept alive so long as political fundraisers find it the best way to squeeze susceptible donors who are unconnected or barely so -- seniors, primarily. And those advertisers who still find it cost-effective, even with a low response rate. Also big Internet retailers who need a cheap delivery system that reaches the far corners that aren't viable for commercial services.

The post office exists because the founding fathers realized any civilized country needed one. Whether that still applies is a fair question, but I remain doubtful about privatizing too many government functions. The end result is a sort of corporate socialism, with incompetent party hacks replaced by incompetent management deadwood, death of competition via consolidation, and even less accountability than we have now.

Of course that won't shut up politicians who make a big noise about privatizing or closing it down. In truth, if there was any serious possibility either would happen they'd hear from their masters.
Nov 7, 2013
Some of the best mail I get comes from the mail. Sending a letter - by mail - is very personal. We are entering the holiday season - and it would be insane for me to think about what the world would be like if the front door wasn't covered with cards from friends and family.

I like real mail.

I still also get two newspapers delivered every day because I like paper better than my tablet. I like being able to open up a newspaper without being told by a computer program what to read first. I also get magazines. I get them delivered in that format because I don't like digital formats when I really want to read something. I like having something real, and physical, in front of me. I buy some ebooks but I also buy real books. We have four of the best ereaders on the market in our home PLUS tablets and PLUS computers ... and sometimes I want a real book.

Most of the mail is junk. But it's easy to throw away. And it's harmless when it goes to a landfill. It doesn't decompose into anything toxic. Junk mail sits in the ground - and slowly decomposes.

I guess if you're opposed to cutting down trees then paper is bad. But my impression about trees is there are lots of them - and they grow back. There are more trees in America now than there were when the white man arrived. I grew up in a state where the oldest tree in the state was a local monument. It was surrounded by 200 year old trees. At one point all the trees had been cut down - then they grew back. So as I imagine this in my mind, the hill was at one time bare of trees, except for one. Then all the trees grew back.

I have also seen pictures of Colorado, where I now reside, of clear-cut mountains from the mining days - which are now covered with ponderosas and aspens.

My impression from everywhere I have lived is that trees grow back. And they're really, really, really good at doing that. We're not making newspaper or toilet paper here in Colorado or for that matter the paper that junk mail is printed on so why should I care? I assume (correctly) that wherever they are cutting trees to make this paper - those trees will grow back - just as they did everyplace I have ever lived.
Nov 7, 2013
That wouldn't work very well with me, the bulk of the junk mail I receive is not delivered by the postal service, but by other people dropping off flyers and such. That is, nearly all of the junk mail I get is not even addressed to me, so forwarding my mail to the junkyard would only solve a part of the problem, and a small part at that.

I suppose the real option is to cut the bottom out of your mailbox and place your recycling bin directly below it, which would send a pretty clear message to anyone delivering flyers to your door, and allows the mailman to do his job to the letter without inconveniencing you.

Then inform your friends and associates that still communicate with this archaic method that only registered mail (requiring a signature) will ever reach you under any !$%*!$%*!$%*!
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 7, 2013
My idea is that the USPS is replaced by the garbage service. Mail delivery once a week would be more than adequate for me. I just don't know why the enviro-whackos haven't jumped on the bandwagon to have junk mail taxed sky high so as to reduce the energy resources used by production and delivery of junk mail.
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 7, 2013
I just signed up at Direct Mail's "Do Not Mail" list. http://www.directmail.com/directory/mail_preference/Default.aspx

It didn't stop everything (especially charity/political mail) but I don't see too much in the way of credit-card offers or other things.

There is another reason for USPS mail: subpoenas and government notices. Yes, certainly that stuff can be delivered by email. But the trials and tribulations of HealthCare.Gov make me suspect that the government hasn't exactly mastered Internet technology yet (other than spying on us).
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 7, 2013
I'm in.

The whole reason we cling to the dinosaur that is the USPS it because that is the only organization willing to deliver stuff to rural areas below cost.

We would be far better off subsidizing Internet infrastructure projects and private delivery in rural areas.

Of course - even though it would cost far less and bring an end to the forest-clearing, junk mail scourge - it would mean admitting that the USPS has essentially become a multi-billion dollar charity program for rural America. Hence, it will never happen.

Good book by the way. I'm halfway through. I'm using your chapter 12 theme in my own book - one I'm ghost writing for someone with an actual following. I started down that path before reading your book - but there's every chance that regular blog readership involves a certain amount of cross-pollination of ideas.
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