JUNK MAIL & JUNK BUMF

Do you regularly get a load of junk mail? If so, it might just be your own fault.

There seems to be three kinds of junk.

  • leaflets from local marketing, like pizza leaflets/Chinese takeaway menus/local garage adverts etc that occasionally get shoved through the letterbox. Less so these days, I’m happy to say.
  • stuff that companies send you after you’ve purchased something from their website. Once a company has your address, you can be driven demented by months of unwanted catalogues trying to persuade you to buy more socks or another set of drill bits…
  • those awful packs of gubbins wrapped in plastic that fall out of the weekend newspapers. You know, the kind that advertise things you never knew you needed, like heated knickers for the hard of hearing, or electric hoes for unwanted beard growth.

The first is easy to stop. A notice saying ‘NO JUNK MAIL’ on the front door works wonders. The second is easy to stop, but it requires you to Do Something About It. The third I’ve got an idea about. Press on, dear reader, it’s at the end.

But really, it is all shit that NOBODY needs. Whole forests are sacrificed for it, it frequently arrives in plastic envelopes, and I hope by now you know how I feel about superfluous plastics.

My feelings on superfluous plastics.

Most people don’t read their junk mail, according to my research (which, er, involved asking a few people I know… très scientifique, non?) They chuck it in the recycling or, worse, in the bin where it goes to landfill. Landfill, the scourge of our age.

Whilst it isn’t our fault if companies send us their advertising material the minute they find out where we live, it is up to us to do what we can to make them stop sending us their wretched and unwanted blurb.

Basically, if we keep getting the same stuff month after month, year after year, we have only ourselves to blame.

So do NOT throw those catalogues out. Here’s how to stop junk mail. It’s the tried and trusted Keane method.

Purchase a nice fat marker pen. Any bright colour is good. Then write the following words on the envelope:

RETURN TO SENDER.

NOT KNOWN AT THIS ADDRESS.

PLEASE DELETE FROM RECORDS.

Then pop it in the post box. It might not work the first time, but repeat your action and the stream of unwanted mail will eventually dry up. It’s the equivalent of unsubscribing.

It’s always worked for me. I once moved into a new house in London and I counted 33 names receiving post at my address. 33!!! Great piles of mail daily plonked onto the mat. Catalogues, mainly. One by one, I wrote the above instructions on the envelopes and posted them back. A year later, the problem was gone.

One company, however, was particularly persistent and clearly didn’t take any notice of politely worded instructions. So, in addition to the above instructions, I stuck a large white label on the back of the plastic sheath and wrote the following in bright red marker pen:

“I DO NOT WANT THIS SHITE COMING THROUGH MY LETTER BOX.

WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET THE MESSAGE?”

They stopped sending after that.

(Feel free to substitute the word “garbage” for “shite”. Not everyone loves my Portsmouth/Dublin lexicon.)

In addition…

I now even send back catalogues I would enjoy (in other words, flowers, bulbs, seeds) unopened. Well, most of them. I confess to drooling over the Sarah Raven catalogues. No-one can be perfect all the time. But there really is no excuse for companies sending out endless hard copy when virtually everything these days is online. I mark them ‘return to sender’ on the front, and on the back I write (in green, of course!):

PLEASE STOP SENDING HARD COPY. I’M ALREADY A CUSTOMER – LET’S START THINKING ABOUT THE PLANET.

Back to that newspaper junk…

I’ve had an idea about a cheap way to protest. I’m going to buy 100 x 1p stamps, and I’m going to post those bundles back to the newspaper. They’ll have to pay the excess. I shall write the following on the back:

UNWANTED LANDFILL

And if LOTS of us start doing that, it might make a difference. Anyone fancy trying it with me?

Meanwhile…

I very much hope everyone out there is staying safe, and that you aren’t suffering too much from the effects of Covid. For myself, I have no idea when we’ll get back into the theatres again, it’s looking pretty dire for my industry. But I keep busy (distraction is vital for sanity!) and will be posting more regularly again now that life is cautiously returning to something resembling what we once knew.

And before I go, here’s a picture of my darling little dog, Piper, after an exciting roll in the hay.

Straw dog with a question in her eyes. “Where is my tea?”

Photo credit

Thanks to Pau Casals on Unsplash for the header photo. It won’t appear on the emails, but it does appear on the website and I try to credit all photos properly.

30 thoughts on “JUNK MAIL & JUNK BUMF

  1. Hi Dillie,

    Some interesting thoughts on how to stop the hard spam (thankfully we don’t get so much now).

    Reminded me of another pet hate of mine – envelopes with plastic see-through windows on them. Here’s the reasoning:

    Our local council provide us with 3 types of bin –
    * Black – for all non-recylcable materials – goes to a great big furnace for burning in the Suffolk countryside
    * Blue – for all recyclables, but this does not include thin-film plastics of any nature, and everything must be cleaned. (Separate peeve – it takes one household not to wash out their plastic bottle or tin can and the whole load is no longer recyclable AFAIK)
    * Brown – for garden waste (compositing), although they change an additional £40 per year per bin (max 4) for the pleasure.

    So, back to the windowed envelopes. When I’m collecting rubbish in the office (read: messy hole I work in), i place all paper-related materials into a bin to take out to the wheelie when full. I now have to separate any envelope with a plastic window into the black (for burning) pile rather than recycling, because of a 2″ x 4″ piece of plastic. (Or get creative with scissors and cut it out – I’d love to be perfect, but I have other things to do!)

    Keep up the good work, and hope everything opens up soon so you get start entertaining the bored hordes again! I’m hoping lockdown has helped with some creative writing and composing 🙂

    Kind regards
    C

    Like

    • Great comment, thanks! Yes, I hope everything opens up soon… I fear, however, that by the time it’s safe to open the theatres again, three quarters of them will have gone bankrupt and closed. And this in the land that produced Shakespeare…

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  2. A great strategy! I shall give it a try. Landfill may be the scourge of our age, but it’s a hell of a lot eco-friendlier than the previous method, which was to dump it all in the sea. At least some of the better landfill sites harvest methane.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m afraid “No junk mail” stickers on the letter box just don’t work on one in a row of over a hundred terrace houses (e.g Bunycrai Towers) . Most of the people delivering the stuff are so disengaged that they’re immured to signage. I did once go immediately out and return the thick glossy estate agent brochure to a suited man who looked surprised for a split second then said very sarcastically “Thanks, very much. I’ll use it somewhere else.” (With warning, I could have been prepared to tell him where to stick it.)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent way of dealing with the bloody stuff! Personally, I would stick to shite as garbage is too polite for most of these companies to understand 😖🤬

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Dillie,I’ve just great your later blog regarding junk mail, and certainly agree with the unnecessary use of plastic, but would ask that you have a look at the link below regarding paper and the myths surrounding it:https://www.twosides.info/myths-and-factsI speak from a biased view point having worked in the print industry for over 20 years for a company celebrating 150 years in business, but paper is a sustainable product and keeps lots of people employed.  The direct mail industry is adapting and moving their outer packaging from the poly bags to paper.  Sorry to trouble you, but thought that paper got a big of unfair press in you blog?HelenPS can’t wait for the tour to start again, I saw you in Cheltenham just before the tour was postponed.

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    • Thanks, Helen. There are always at least two sides to any question and you raise a good one. I don’t imagine that even if my blog was followed by 3 million folk (instead of nearly 3,000) it would stop junk mail in its tracks. Paper is indeed sustainable, but growth is not, and the sheer volume of paper printed trying to get people to spend money is quite shocking. I have no objection to paper or to printing per se – it’s just that most junk mail goes straight into the bin and I think that the waste is terrible. Besides, during my research into this, I came across this – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/post/stop-getting-junk-mail/ – which just shows how difficult it is to stop the ruddy stuff. Thanks for the lovely remark about the show – that was our last show, we felt incredibly sad that night as we were pretty certain we wouldn’t see each other again for a good while. Cheers.

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  6. When I donate to a charity and tick the box to indicate I don’t want to be contacted by post it really annoys me when they send me begging letters. It’s a waste of money and paper and even worse when they include raffle tickets or sticky address labels. At least pens don’t appear anymore. I’ll have to try your return to sender idea. Thanks.

    A polite suggestion – if you read your newspaper online it would save paper and remove the problem of the inserts.

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    • Thanks Barbara, polite suggestion taken in my case. I do read the news online. My other half, though, won’t contemplate change. He gets the newspaper every day – but in fairness, he reads almost all of it. And when I have time I make it into briquettes for the barbecue.

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  7. We received several catalogues from an ‘adult’ Film/Magazine supplier. I told myself (and my wife) that is was probably one of our kids’ chums had signed us up for it as a bit of a wheeze.
    What stopped them was doing much as you suggest. Return to sender with ‘Unsolicited pornography, please delete from your mailing list written in large letters across the envelope using a bright red marker pen.
    It’s just occurred to me that I could use the same technique on other non-porn catalogues. Which is all of them

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  8. This is copied from a website. Apparently the post office couldn’t continue without it…..
    “You’re not imagining things. You probably are getting much more junk mail than anything else.
    That mail could make up better than half your Postman’s bag on a given day.
    The sheer abundance of this mail helps keep letter carriers and bulk mail specialists working.
    The size of the bulk mailings, and the number of companies that send them, make junk mail an important part of Postal Service revenue.”

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    • Interesting point. I think we have to balance things, however. Landfill, or a daily deliver? We may have to live with a reduced postal service. I’d be content with fewer deliveries, though I can only speak for myself, that might not suit everyone.

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  9. Dear Dilly,

    Thanks for your very good advice.

    I save nearly all the junk mail I get and make the pages into envelopes!

    Just open an ordinary envelope and keep it to use as a template. It’s very satisfying. You just need glue or sellotape.

    It’s very relaxing. I make them in batches. Even old books and magazines make lovely envelopes too.

    My very warmest Odette xx

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  10. We don’t get newspapers any more. Paul (husband) gave me a subscription for the Grauniad which includes the Observer on Sundays. Et voila no wasted paper (which can’t be used for chips any more anyway). Although I worry a bit about the corner shops and the guys who do the printing, it’s a bit profligate to have throwaway paper. Even though it’s great for packing stuff away in.

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  11. I’m sure I’m missing something Dillie. Why do we have to put 1p stamps on before returning to sender? Can we not just return the bumph and will the sender not still then have to pay? I genuinely don’t know.

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    • Perhaps I should have mentioned that I’ve been told that the parcel is more likely to arrive with a stamp on it than without, in the assumption that someone with poor sight might just have put the wrong stamp on it.

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  12. Ridding yourself of junk bumf and excess paper through the door.
    1. Tory election manifestos make the best fire lighters. Just make an anti-clockwise twist and they light themselves with a withering stare from you. Sorry if you live in a non-Tory safe seat where they won’t take the trouble to deliver to you: I’m a marginal and got 7 firelighters in the last campaign.
    2. Go paperless billing for everything you can, if you can: I’m down to one postal bill a year – council tax. But please, please make sure you save the bills digitally as you may need them for credit applications, proof of ID etc. Same goes for payslips. Also help those you know who can’t get online to get their bills this way and avoid outrageous charges e.g. BT at £3 a bill.
    3. Better catalogue providers (Dillie references one) will very kindly send you an email version if you ask. My only grouse about some of them is the limited email alternative options e.g. my favourite clothing company insists they can’t change the one a day missive, though they are ‘trying’.
    4. If they won’t remove you from a postal mailing list, cite the Data Protection Act 2018 and your right to remove your personal data and be informed how your data is being used. Usually does the trick.
    5. Junk mail accompanies postal mail. If the postie isn’t delivering to you, you generally won’t get the leaflets with the real post.

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    • Great reply. No 1 maid me laugh. Just a question on NO 5, we don’t get junk mail with our post, so I wonder what classification of junk mail you mean?

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      • No. 5: sorry, should have clarified what comes with the postie. I mean the type of junk mail in a window envelope addressed impersonally ‘to the householder’ but otherwise with the correct address. Usually from conglomerates/large companies. I don’t think they need to have bought the electoral roll list to find these addresses as they are on the Royal Mail’s own site. That’s another thing – make sure you opt out of the open register i.e. having your details on sale when you do your annual electoral roll renewal.

        Doesn’t affect the delivery of menus from local takeaways, window cleaners etc. about whom I have some sympathies!

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  13. Try stockpiling your junk mail and put it in one envelope and send it to the one you least like with whatever message you prefer, no stamp of course, seems to work fit me.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  14. I bloody hate teabags – not just for environmental reasons but for the utter shite in them that they pass for as “tea” (the sweepings from the tea factory floor – most of the good stuff is kept for loose-leaf really not that awful dust!) and the sheer cost. Based on teabags being 2g tea, a leading brand of Earl Grey (which I don’t drink as it reminds me too much of exam periods at university 20 years ago) works out at £26/kg in bag format or the same brand sells loose-leaf Earl Grey for £15 per kg – daylight robbery charging eleven quid more for it being in bags, which are hardly a convenience. I mean, I’m not breaking into a sweat chucking a couple of spoons of tea (I actually do me own blend because I’m eccentric/bonkers – a mix of Assam leaf with saffron and dried Damask rose heads and some spices to make so-called “love tea” – I mix a huge jar every month – takes me 5 mins at most) into me pot and using a strainer. I don’t like those little metal things one can fill with tea that act sort of like a reusable bag and are often in novelty shapes – no room for the leaves to swell and move around and you’re buggered if you like it strong because you can get frig-all into one and when I’m drinking normal tea and not being a mad bastard in a kaftan (they’re very sensible in the hot weather, so long as no one sees you!), I like it somewhere on the scale of tea strength between “removal man” and “builder” – as black as a gorilla’s goolies and well-sugared (I have sweetener nowadays – lockdown has made me pile it on and I’m officially “slimming” at present).

    I do like your blog very much, Dillie – it’s lovely to read about someone else being pissed off at all the same things and you do write lovely, to boot. Delicious turn of phrase! And your dog is a delight!
    r

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    • Not sure how in the name of Byzantine buggery that ended up with the comments on recycling when I put it on the post about teabags. Oh dear I think modern technology just got the better of me – feels like finding another grey hair (that isn’t on one’s head).
      r

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    • What a post! We are of a mind. I like a good strong Irish cuppa and I think putting in a bit of bother about food and drink pays VAST dividends. Since writing the blog about teabags even my old man who is devoted to the Barry’s tea bag has switched to Barry’s loose leaf. I order it in spectacular quantity because we get through it very fast. Being both Irish, of course we do. And we don’t really drink coffee. Meanwhile, thanks so much for posting. Keep reading. The dog sends woofs.

      Like

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