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Progress, yes, but it’s still an obscenity—to have to work so hard to keep other people from putting litter on my property.
The big win in the stack pictured above, which shows my ad-mail from calendar year 2012, was the complete absence of phone books.
I went to the industry’s own opt-out website, created in response to Seattle’s law, and sent word to Frontier again to keep its advertising pulp off my porch. Every RedPlum edition I got, my junk-mail vanquishing fantasies grew more malicious: I wanted to scatter all 15 pounds of this ink-smeared invasion of privacy in a Valassis shareholder meeting, like confetti.
You know those colorful folders in which kindergarten teachers send kids’ crayon drawings home to mom and dad? Valassis has earned a special place in Hell, as far as I’m concerned, but it wasn’t the only new malefactor to invade my mailbox in 2012.
Comcast, CenturyLink, and one college all turned the spigot down or off, though the New York Times did not. Stamping out direct mail on your own, even with the help of Catalog Choice, makes you feel like Sisyphus. As I have said, ad mail is not the biggest of Cascadia’s challenges, but it ought to be among the easiest to solve. The post office has responded by marketing and discounting itself aggressively to advertisers, and by cutting service.
Postal workers’ jobs are indeed in jeopardy, and I’m concerned for the workers and their families, but the cause of that plunging profit line is not that too many people are refusing junk mail.
As shown below (data from here and the US census), in 1950, each American received six pieces of mail a week, on average, and the post office did fine.
Giving ourselves the power, through a Do Not Mail registry, to stop the deluge of RedPlums, Chase Visa Gold offers, and Comcast pitches is not a threat to the postal service. The immediate challenge is the Internet, and adapting to it will reshape mail service profoundly. We are a community-sponsored resource and we can’t do this work without you!Please make a donation today and help keep us running.
I did a pilot project where I stuck a Red Dot on every mailbox in an apartment building, with a note asking people to peel the sticker off if they want junk mail. As you point out, this cannot be solved through individual action, the system must be changed.
And the fact is, we have just a few hours of conscious attention each day–our brain is physically limited by the need for food energy (not to mention the hours in a day).
I gave a long talk on Compassionate Systems at a recycling conference, where I went into some vicious detail about junk mail, free papers and the Red Dot. Furthermore, and more important, the red dot doesn’t stop the _printing_ of the mail, just the delivery. Yes, the default for junk mail should be Opt In, whereas the default for healthcare should be Opt Out. But in the meantime, I think red-dotting apartment buildings would be a great project for an organization like the Suzuki Foundation or another of the eNGOs.
On the Red Dot, my understanding is the postie has a list of addresses that is periodically updated and is used when ads are sold. Another flaw is that the only thing that gets through the Red Dot are Federal and Provincial government mailings. For me, junk mail is a beautiful example of how we tell the wrong story about behaviour change. What we have is enormous pent-up desire to do the right thing, to live in way that is less damaging and perhaps even regenerative. Am I right that it doesn’t touch mail addressed to me by name, only stuff that’s not by name? You’re certainly right that an army of volunteer Red Dotters could make a huge difference.
Speaking of switching the default, another campaign strategy might be to try to get the manufacturers of mail boxes to put red dots on them in advance. Alan, I think the rule is you are supposed to write Canada Post a letter, but in reality it is up to the postie. I haven’t done anything other than put up a Red Dot, and now it can be days with nothing in my mailbox.
But again, why should I have to expend my energy to avoid dealing with someone else’s garbage? And…you would think municipalities would be keen to reduce junk mail, wouldn’t you? 1) Municipalities, with their much more intimate politics, are allergic to offending business.
2) Paper is the most valuable fraction of the recycling stream, and usually subsidized the plastics and definitely the glass. The mail preference system (MPS) maintained by the direct mail assn is similar to greenwashing; not only does it require that individual action that Alan rightly notes as unlikely, it costs $5 to register. Junk mail is hardcopy spam, from people who could care less about those who don’t respond. How about if the USPS begins to require a check box on all mail qualifying for their bulk mail rate. This would give mail box owners an easy way to selectively reject junk mail, junk mailers an effective way to winnow out folks that actually want the stuff, and the post office added first class mail revenue from handling the rejected mail. I opted out of pre-approved credit card offers, which was the most annoying junk mail I was receiving. I was JUST blogging about this same issue Alan, so glad to read your post and know that I have partners in passionately fighting junk mail!
I find that a lot of the unwanted mail I get is from non-profits I have donated to, asking for more. I live in Seattle and have successfully used CatalogChoice to stop unwanted junk mail from a number of sources. I'd like to receive useful tips, tools and resources via email from Kelley Blue Book and affiliates. Changes this year are minor and mostly centered around increased availability of NIssanConnect in the Frontier lineup.
New standard features for the S trim with automatic transmission include Bluetooth, cruise control and air conditioning, while heated cloth seats are made standard on PRO-4X and available on the SV.
The NissanConnect navigation and information system is now available on Crew Cab versions of the Frontier. For 2012, Nissan adds a new Sport Appearance Package on King Cab and Crew Cab SV models; Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS) and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) are made standard on Frontiers with the 4-cylinder engine.
Changes to the 2011 Nissan Frontier include new designations and some revised option packages.
All 2010 Nissan Frontier models now feature front side-impact and full-length side-curtain airbags, while V6 models pick up VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) stability control as part of their standard equipment roster.
The 2009 Nissan Frontier receives a revised front end and new grille, as well as new 16- and 18-inch wheels. A power driver's seat is added to LE trims, while a host of upgraded packages debut across the line. For 2007, the Crew Cab models offer a Long Bed option, which increases the bed length by nearly 14 inches. The 2016 Nissan Frontier is the oldest member of what has recently become a resurgent midsize-truck segment, yet it continues to hold up surprisingly well. Truck also rides smooth and solid, and is very capable when off road to find those difficult river acces points, or climbing the mountain backroads for a good view.

If you're considering this truck I can only suggest you try a test drive to make up you're mind. I know many people state that this truck is "dated", and I can see why, but I never would have through that until I read a review which used that term. The only ding against this truck is gas mileage; 15 City and 20 Highway is not awful, but 18 city would add 90 miles between stopping for gas, which for me is about a week extra between fill ups. Overall, this was 10K less than a comparatively equipped Tacoma in my area, and I couldn't be happier. I paid about $10k less than I would have paid for a comparably equipped Tacoma and I got a lot of goodies like locking rear differential, blue tooth connectivity, heated seats, traction control, zero gravity seats. My Frontier is a ton of fun to drive, it has great power, great handling and I like the way it looks, even if it is a ten year old design. It’s also a drain on our communities: hauling away junk mail costs US cities and towns about a billion dollars a year. I wanted to shred it and blow it through the HVAC ducts at Valassis HQ. I wanted to soak it, grind it, and serve it, pink-slime-like, at the Valassis annual barbecue.
I wanted every one of those folders opened by a Valassis boss to hold a wadded gob of the ads she or he had sent to my house.
As proof that no good deed goes unpunished, meanwhile, Bellevue College actually started sending me two of each catalog after I asked for relief.
But I’m betting you, like me, do not care much about the likes of Valassis Interactive, Inc. In 2009, my Going Postal comment string was full of postal workers worried about a mass opt-out from junk mail.
It’s not junk-mail warriors like me, armed with Catalog Choice, that pose an existential threat.
After 2007, however, mail volume looked south and then stampeded in that direction, dropping by a quarter in just five years. Opting out of mailings that do not interest you actually improves the profitability and cost-effectiveness of advertisers’ efforts.
If it had, or if we had a Do Not Mail registry already, or even if regulations simply required mailers to honor requests channeled through third-party services such as Catalog Choice, this junk-mail warrior wouldn’t be baring his fangs, raging at phone booksters, or fashioning voodoo dolls in his mind.
DMA also set up the online renewal for opting out in a way that seems deliberately designed to confuse folks into opting back in, IMO. It is a similar situation, though, where Canada Post makes a huge part of its revenue off delivering garbage–its business model is based on garbage, and posties get a bonus for delivering it. 80% of people kept the sticker, so ten minutes work for me will result in over a ton less junk mail each year, year after year, in just that one building. Mailers must begin to allow for red dots, perhaps even model the likely number of red dots per neighborhood, and adjust print runs accordingly. The idea of a Please Mail Me Junk registry is hilarious–and it would virtually eliminate junk mail. I have tested it in several buildings and know two other people who have used my notice forms, all to good effect.
So, it may take a couple of weeks to trickle up, but your Red Dot does eventually result in less junk mail being printed. Many people like them because they help connect to the community–events and local news. We say change requires information, awareness, education, caring, convenience, incentives, punishment… but in fact it is physically impossible for us to deal with all the important issues using these tools. There are a lot of system changes that we can just do, and people will be perfectly happy that someone else took care of it for them.
Considering how much junk mail hauling costs localities, they might even contribute money — support youth groups that do the dotting?
If an advertiser had my name and address, it would be delivered (I think junk is called Unaddressed Ad Mail), so the Do Not Mail list would be helpful for all the junk that shows up after a magazine sells their subscriber list. I have seen recycling coordinators argue against junk mail reduction projects because it would eat into the money they make from selling recyclables.
And, as they say on their website: Although registration with MPS will help to reduce the amount of unsolicited mail that you receive, it will not stop all unsolicited mail. The spam shotgun is the weapon they have, so they will keep using it, because they continue to believe that they are getting enough responses to make it worth their while. Since you finally got them to stop sending them to you, I’ll hope for similar results. I cannot believe the copious quantities of mail I receive from at least a couple dozen non-profits in any given month. They include three new exterior colors and the availability of a moonroof on crew-cab SV models.
The connectivity technology is now standard with a 5.0-inch screen on Frontier SV and Desert Runner models, and standard with navigation on PRO-4X models.
Three new wheel options, upgraded audio and navigation, and a sliding rear window on all Crew Cabs except the S trim round out the changes for 2014.
Top-line Crew Cab models receive a backup camera, rear parking sensors and dual-zone climate control. The Frontier XE, SE and LE are replaced by the Frontier S, SV and SL, while the S and PRO 4X are now offered in Crew Cab form.
In addition, SE and LE 4WD models are outfitted with standard Hill Decent Control and Hill Start Assist. A Technology Package adds upgraded audio with an auxiliary audio input jack, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, steering wheel audio controls, XM Satellite Radio and a security and alarm system. With last year's all-new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon siblings, and this year's revamp of the venerable Toyota Tacoma, there's no doubt the Frontier faces stiff competition from rivals that offer better fuel economy and fresher amenities.
I test drove a Tacoma and the Canyon, and found this to be the most comfortable out of the bunch.
To me this was not a deal breaker (obviously I drive less than 100 miles a week in this truck) but I wanted to mention it. You can find these Pro-4x models that come with the bilstein shocks, the skid plates, etc for around $26k with under 20,000 miles and a year or two old.
Changed dramatically since 2009, however, is the overarching trend: US mail volume is in free fall.
Every week all year, I got a thick wad of full-color, loose-leaf sales pitches and coupons, fish-wrapped with a sheaf of newsprint and prone to falling apart in my mailbox or floating out of my recycle basket when I carry it to the bin. RedPlum mailings are like advertising packets from a Sunday newspaper, and the USPS is now eager to deliver, at a newly discounted rate, such envelope-free circulars everywhere it goes.
Unwanted mail wastes paper and all the trees, energy, and climate emissions it takes to manufacture and carry 100-pound piles of junk mail to each post box each year, then recycle it again, typically unopened. Individual, voluntary action is a help, but more effective solutions must operate on a larger scale.
Since then, the US Postal Service’s finances have gone from bad to worse, and layoffs have ensued. By 1980, as junk mail achieved lift off, the figure had risen to about eight pieces per person per week.
I’m hoping that I’ll have more encouraging news next year—and not one stinking RedPlum. I joined it several years ago and it dramatically curtailed the junk mail I had been receiving. In fact, Canada Post has even sent letters to people asking them if they want to remove their red dot and start getting junk mail again. If you want to shower me with junk, you should have to ask my permission first, whether it is for groceries, phone books or community newspapers.

We have to use that attention to perform at work and maintain our home and relationships, so we have very little left over to go through this amazingly Byzantine process. The thing that ticks me off about these garbage-based business models is that taxpayers subsidze them. And it would allow recipients to stop delivery of mail that’s directed to their name, not just to their address. Setting the default to No Junk Mail is a powerful notion, much more powerful than a Do Not Mail registry alone. Is the Red Dot literally the only thing you have to do — not file a form with the post office?
I imagine that postal regulations in different parts of the world yield wildly different ad-mail practices and volumes.
The default should put the onus on the companies generating garbage to get my permission before they send it to me. There could be a nearly endless well of data though – Canada Post will sell junk mail delivery down to very fine-grained areas. You may continue to receive mail from companies with which you already do business and from non-DMA organizations which do not use MPS.
It used to be free, but I never remember it being terribly effective, in my personal experience.
It has literally caused me to contribute less to them or any new non-profit that comes on my radar screen.
Desert Runner off-road editions are available, and fuel economy has increased for most models. A Vehicle Immobilizer and bed rail caps are now standard on Frontier SV, PRO-4X and SL models. The PRO-4X package adds a long list of goodies including Bilstein shocks, additional skid plates, electronic rear differential locker and off-road tires. Nevertheless, Nissan's midsize pickup boasts plenty of grunt when equipped with a V6 engine, a good mix of comfort and capability, and even some features still not available in rivals, including power-adjustable front seats and rear disc brakes (both lacking in the Tacoma) and push-button start (non-existent in the GM twins).
I find it comfortable on longer drives, it has a decent enough stereo, and working bluetooth.
In 2009, when I last did a 365-day count, my stack was four inches taller and weighed in at 50 pounds. Unfortunately, in my 2013 stack (which covers the six months after I spent May aggressively unsubscribing to junk mail), one small phone book appeared, from Frontier Communications. In the photo atop this article, you can see the RedPlums taking up the bottom half of the stack: more annoying even than Yellow Pages! I did a happy dance when I learned that Catalog Choice had added non-catalog mailers to its service. In the last six months, while I was watching to see if RedPlum (snarl) would leave me alone, I’ve been barraged by the League of Conservation Voters (six times), Unicef (four times), and Harper’s (seven renewal notices in six months). In 2012, the USPS appears to have lost almost 10 cents on every piece of mail it delivered, the largest operating loss in the service’s history, as shown in this chart of profits from 1950 to 2012. Remote residents might need to pick up their mail at the post office, as they did in bygone days.
There is a huge latent desire for this, but we don’t have the capacity to do all the important things we know need doing. Advertisers can really target their demographics, and that drastically changes the height of your stack of junk. This could be done, but it’s just not a high priority politically and the USPS is in a death spiral. Something no other agency, and certainly none of its private competitors (who also get to pick and choose where they’ll deliver and when and for how much) have to do. The contractor who delivered the book apparently didn’t read the opt-out list correctly. Combined with heated seats, power windows, backup camera and keyless entry, it has everything I need. That was after I’d already spent hours beating back the onslaught with the help of Catalog Choice, the de-junking website. Meanwhile, my insurance and banking company USAA spontaneously restarted my member magazine subscription this summer, after four years of blessed reprieve. It is either on or off, and some people put up with more junk than they want so they can keep in touch with their city.
When I have given money in the last 10-15 years, it has just about always been electronically so they have my e-mail address – why the switch to contacting me by snail mail???
The V6 has plenty of power, and when you hit the gas and hit 4K RPM you really start to feel the power kick in. I’ve done more of this tedious work since, opting-out online and calling customer service numbers, and I’ve pushed my tally down first to 33 pounds (for calendar year 2012) and, in the most recent six months, to the equivalent of 26 pounds per year. If Seattle’s Yellow Pages law were still law, Frontier could have been fined for ignoring my request. Similarly, late last year, the Seattle Times started competing with RedPlum by dropping a weekly pile of ads called “Sunday Market” on my stoop, even though I subscribe to the electronic edition of that paper specifically in order to avoid all the newsprint. I also wrote to two local community colleges, which between them sent me a dozen course catalogs in 2012 weighing 2.5 pounds. It is eviscerating snail mail, not only for advertising but also, and especially, for bills, newsletters, and letters. The post office survived in 1950, as it did in all previous decades, so it’s hard to see why it couldn’t survive a future in which it delivers perhaps five or six pieces of mail per person per week instead of 14.
We are sending these businesses a cheque every time we clean up after them, and they are laughing all the way to the bank. According to this Washington Post article, without that burden, the USPS would have a 1.5 billion dollar surplus.
The bed liner, adjustable rail system, bed extended and hitch receiver makes this perfect for what a average homeowner will ever need. Unfortunately, the Yellow Pages industry won a court challenge, so the fines are no longer in effect.
I’ve also written to others (I’m looking at you Chase!), and I’m watching to see what they do. This chart shows the total number of pieces of mail the USPS delivered each year from 1950 to 2012 (data here).
Perhaps they’ll return to pedaling two-wheelers, as they do already in three communities in Florida and Arizona; in New Zealand, some 80 percent of “Posties” bike their routes.
The final point I want to make is the overall length of the truck; at 206 inches it is short enough to fit in my garage. The post office may even require a modest subsidy from the Treasury again, as it regularly received in the United States until 1982.
There are efforts to undo the unreasonable requirement (led by Bernie Sanders, among others).
Naturally, I have torn up the Frontier book and folded its yellow paper into a voodoo doll.
Paper is among the most energy-intensive and polluting products to manufacture, and hauling it around gobbles more energy. If we can manage that, the USPS won’t be so desperate to cut deals with the folks who shower us with useless paper.

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