Junk mail. We all hate it don’t we? It seems to have gathered pace recently and the waste of good resources continues unabated. For many opening the letterbox only to find it full of unsolicited junk mail is a daily occurrence. In 2013, the government addressed this issue seeking to ban this practice in the new (back then) Waste Management Plan. We were promised that action would be taken to stop this nuisance but, to date, not only has it not been addressed but it has become much worse.

In a time when our Earth is slowing giving up on us, and we need to find an immediate solution, why doesn’t the government consider legislating in favour of penalties against those who persist in sending out unsolicited mail?

There is absolutely no question that advertising mail can be given only one description – junk mail. However, one needs to understand that unfortunately, there are some pretty serious consequences behind this mail, not least in the cost of disposing of the stuff once it comes through our doors, and – almost immediately – is chucked into the bin. Millions of Euro a year is spent, either in recycling the material, or in shovelling it into landfill sites. It seems we are stuck with junk mail. Or are we?

Most of us have been through this… I bet there was at least once when you returned from a vacation with a mound of mail and most of it is just food magazines and advertising papers? Everything we use can be traced back to a natural resource, including junk mail. It takes 17 trees to make a ton of paper. Trees aren’t the only resource used to make our junk mail, either. It takes 36 million BTUs to make a ton of paper, and the production and disposal of junk mail alone consumes more energy than 2.8 million cars.

What many companies have still not understood, is that although sending direct mail to households might increase their exposure, they are ignoring the fact that direct mail is “junk” to many consumers. A lot of it will go directly into the garbage…because let’s be honest, a portion of recipients who would not like to receive such mail probably bin it without even reading it.  Right? I am one of those… This is resulting in the generation of considerable amount of paper waste, which at best ends up in the recyclable bag.Moreover, those who do not participate actively in separating this waste may divert these to the mixed waste fraction, compounding the problem further.
Most of us have become now conscious about the environmental impact our actions are leaving.Though some of the direct mail materials used today are made with environmentally friendly, 100-percent recycled materials, many are not. When you consider that you will likely be producing thousands of advertisements, 98 to 99 percent of which will be trashed, the environmental implications are not positive. Some customers object to direct mail advertisements for this reason more than any other.

Companies which produce catalogues should be encouraged to distribute their material in appropriate locations, like supermarkets and stationeries, where people can make a conscious choice to take a copy. In addition, such companies should be encouraged to email material to those who request to receive it through a subscription.

There is little to our knowledge that can be done to stop this but maybe if we all write on out mail box that we do not want junk mail to be posted, we will once and for all send a message to those who insist in having then distributed! If nobody accepts junk mail, then maybe (just maybe), it will stop being produced… or is it only wishful thinking?!