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 7, 2013
Unless things have changed, you have to pay the forwarding costs for anything other than first class mail. Junk mail is mostly fourth class. There is a time limit on forwarding.

At least half the stuff I get in my mailbox is unaddressed mail that the PO sticks in every mail box. A lot of times I get multiple copies.
Nov 7, 2013
Scott: you know you own a spam filter right? Just give the junk mail to your dog and he'll tear it up for you.
Nov 7, 2013
Junk mail subsidizes the cost of first-class mail. If the post office eliminated it, they'd have to significantly increase the cost of first-class mail.

Not to mention there could be a first amendment issue, or the post office would have to eliminate second- and third-class mail entirely and make everything require first-class postage.

Add to that the fact that advertisers would be forced to the web, so this page (for example) would have ten times the ads as it does now. In a way, accepting junk mail keeps those pop-ups from annoying you!

So I'd rather throw those things away to keep pop-ups under control than vice-versa. Although, that ad about curing ED. . . oh, never mind.
+16 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 7, 2013
Junk mail helps pay (poorly in the US) for the overall service.

The same way nearly half of the computer screen I'm looking at right now is filled with ads.

More of a NIMBY complaint.
+19 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 7, 2013
In India, we can sell our junk paper - so that it can be recycled. Every month we call a guy who comes home, picks up all the newspapers, letters, annual reports, etc and gives us money.
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 7, 2013
what I hate worse are junk NEWSPAPERS! besides the annoyance of having to throw them away they're a security hazard (announcing to passers by that you aren't home)!
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 7, 2013

This is a rather long, and definitely detailed post about how to reduce your mail, junk mail included. The cold hard truth is that it takes a ton of time and vigilance to truly do it right. But I guess if junk mail bothers you this much, following his suggestions would be very worth it.
Nov 7, 2013
Junk mail is a fascinating subject. It used to be that they came in bright envelopes with stars and swooshes and "OPEN THIS IMMEDIATELY!!!!!" printed in a 72-point font. People got wise to that, though, so now, as often as not, they are disguised to look like an official document that you don't want to risk not reading: plain white envelope with nondescript text showing in the window, like something you would get from the IRS, to induce you to at least tear it open before throwing it away.

Did I say fascinating? I meant aggravating.

Aggravating for my wife, anyway; I never even look at our mail unless she tells me it is important. But that makes me wonder if there is a potential business opportunity. Suppose I can get people to sign up to have me filter their mail for them. They set a forwarding address with the post office to send their mail to me, I get rid of the daily junk mail for a fee, and bring them the rest.

In order to work, they would probably have to be OK with evening delivery of their mail, but does anything that requires actual immediate attention come in the physical mail any more?

Another problem would be how to distinguish things. There would have to be some guidelines for how to specify what gets through (just like junk email filters). Anything hand-written, or from the government gets through. Then they could specify a list of companies that they expect things from. Probably I would have to tally what I took out and send them a list on a regular basis, like once a week, to give them a chance to say "Hey, can I have this one?"
Nov 7, 2013
Another solution would be a combination mailbox / paper shredder. Then you can just empty the shredder each week when you bring your recycling bin out to the street.
Nov 7, 2013
People and businesses need to do a better job of targeted advertising. Then we could eliminate some of the garbage. But, there will always be more advertising than we want.
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