Saturday, January 08, 2005

Junk mail, email and keeping the USPS in business

Hardly a day goes by that I don't get some kind of junk mail offer in
my post box. Usually credit card offers. Now I greatly
appreciate that the financial institutions recognize that I have great
credit and can understand their desire to get a piece of my
wallet. However, I get sick of the junk mail and I feel bad that
the town I live in has a poor paper recycling program that forces me to
toss the offers in the regular trash.

As the internet and use of email has progressed there has been talk of
the United States Postal Service suffering due to the decreased use of
snail mail. Companies sending junk mail certainly don't seem to
have slowed down. Meanwhile, the people who now use email to keep
in touch with their friends and family probably never really wrote
enough letters to make a significant dent in the USPS profits to begin
with. They telephoned, so if anyone's hurting it's the phone
companies, and I don't feel so terribly bad about that.

Thanks to Andy Roony of 60 Minutes I now have a great solution that
solves these problems. My trash can won't get as full, and I'll
help keep the USPS in business. The best part is that it doesn't
cost me a dime. The companies that send this crap to us really
want us to write back to them. They have included a self
addressed stamped envelope in the form of that "Business Reply Mail"
(BRM) envelope. It's actually not stamped so this is where the
keeping the USPS in business part comes in. The postage for those
BRM envelopes is paid for by the company you are replying to but ONLY
when it is actually used. Otherwise it's not economical to send
junk mail. So let's use it.

The process is simple. Open your junk mail envelope and find that
BRM envelope in it. Take everything else, including the original
envelope (which you might have to cut up into a few pieces) and place
it back in the BRM envelope, lick it, seal it and drop it in the
mail. That's it. Now the companies that send the junk can
dispose of the junk and the USPS gets some more business. If you
want, throw in some more trash you might have. You'd be surprised
how much you can stuff into those envelopes. Also, if you so
choose, you can leave a little note inside the returned mail telling
them to take you off their mailing list. Perhaps we can reduce
the junk we get while disposing of it.

I'm not going to try to do the math on this, but I bet that if everyone
who gets this stuff takes a few seconds to send it back we could do the
USPS a real favor. Maybe the price of stamps wouldn't keep
jumping up which just further deters us from using snail mail to send
correspondence.

Do your part! Return the trash.

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