Reducing the Cost of Junk MailYou might not think so, but junk mail has a cost. And maybe it’s not a personal financial cost (or maybe it is, if you end up buying things you didn’t know you “needed” after perusing the latest catalog…), but it costs us time and it costs the environment as it increases our carbon footprint.  How much mail do you throw away or recycle?

One of the first things any de-cluttering program suggests you tackle is paper mail.  I do, too, because it is a quick hit and makes a huge impact. Most of the mail piled on the counter ends up in the trash or recycle can, right?

I think it’s great to have a recycle/trash can where you enter with mail.  I think it’s awesome to have a central location for handling bills, personal letters, invitations, and information you need to file for future reference.

But what if you didn’t have so much to sort through? What if a world existed where you could expect to use most of what enters your mailbox? What if you didn’t have to navigate the temptation of Bed, Bath, & Beyond to get to sorting laundry, tidying the bathroom, and lighting a scented candle? What if there were a method for reducing junk mail?

I mean, really, don’t you discover what you need in your house as it’s absence is noticed?  Do you need a high-color ad to remind you your toddler practiced cutting skills on your robe, your knife went down the disposal, or your dog ran off with the scrub brush?

I read an article the other day about clutter and paper-mail management.  In it the author lamented that there is no easy way for reducing junk mail. She suggested we just bite the bullet and call each catalog company and ask to be removed from their mailing list.

I have trouble finding time to call my parents (who I want to spend time with), never mind Restoration Hardware.

Good news!  There actually is an easy way. I don’t usually promote businesses or apps in particular, but apparently I’ve stumbled on one of the best kept secrets for reducing junk mail.  Here’s your new superhero in the battle against junk mail:

PaperKarma (Yeah, I kinda hate the name since I don’t believe in karma, but they didn’t ask my opinion.  Actually, they didn’t ask me anything – I have absolutely no affiliation with these folks, other than I use them to eliminate junk mail.)

PaperKarma is a FREE App (at least it’s free for now).  You set up an account and then simply snap a picture of any junk mail addressed to you, and they submit a request on your behalf to the company and have your name removed from the mailing list.

I’ve been using PaperKarma since February 2012, and they have successfully removed me from 46 mailing lists.  Thirty-eight of those happened in the first three months.  They are highly successful.

The best part?  I can open the app and snap the picture in the time it takes me to walk back from the mailbox.  OK, I have to cross the street to get to my mailbox, so maybe my mail commute is longer than yours, but really… our driveway is not that long.

Now, about the rest of the clutter… I wrote a series on de-cluttering earlier this year.  If you want to understand clutter and get ideas on how to reduce clutter in your home, mind/heart, and on your calendar, check out these posts.