Junk Mail Reduction

Image of forest, mail, and an overfull mailbox


It’s good to recycle your junk mail.

It’s even better to stop getting it

Junk mail wastes an incredible amount of natural resources and contributes to climate change. By stopping the mail you don’t want, you can conserve natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Both residents and businesses receive junk mail. This page gives you the tools you need to stop junk mail. Click on the appropriate link above to go directly to the section with the tools for you.

Residential Tools for Junk Mail Reduction

Chances are your name is being added to a mailing list of some kind whenever you subscribe to a publication, place a credit card order, order items through the mail or the Internet, join an organization, donate to a charity, or enter a sweepstakes. In addition, there are companies who are in the business of selling your name to other companies who believe you may purchase their products or services.

Junk Mail Reduction Services

If you are short on time or prefer the convenience of having someone else contact companies for you, there are multiple junk mail reduction services available. They'll take your and other family members' names off major direct mail lists, reduce unsolicited credit and insurance offers and unsubscribe you from unwanted catalogs.

Catalog Choice


Business listings should not be construed as an endorsement by the City of Palo Alto.

Do It Yourself

Follow these steps to remove your name from mailings lists and stop receiving junk mail.

Step 1 - Prevent junk mail before it starts.

When making donations, ordering items through the mail, or subscribing to a publication, include a note that instructs the organization or company to not lend, sell or trade your name to other mailing lists.

Step 2 - Reduce your current flow of junk mail.

Remove your name from mailing lists of companies who send you catalogs, sweepstakes entries, and coupons by calling, writing or going online and requesting that your name be taken off their list.

  • Most catalogs include a toll-free number. If so, call and request that your name be removed from their mailing list (it will take a few months for your name to exit their mailing system).
  • If you receive unsolicited flyers, newspapers or advertising circulars, call the subscription department, or the company's information number and ask them to remove your name from their list.
  • Some junk mail is marked "address correction requested" or "return postage guaranteed." If your mail has this wording, return it unopened to the sender by writing "Refused-return to sender" on the envelope.


Companies to Contact


Step 3 - Recycle the junk mail you do receive.

Some unwanted mail will undoubtedly get through, so please recycle it!

Step 4 - Additional Tips for Reducing Junk Mail

Post Office Change-of-Address Cards
The Post Office rents the information from change-of-address cards to private businesses. This is how national list brokers, credit bureaus, and others may get your name in the first place. As an alternative solution, send out your own postcards announcing your new address to those whose mail you want to receive. You can also ask the Post Office to hold your mail for pick up until everyone knows your new address.

Warranty Cards
It isn't necessary to complete warranty cards to be covered by warranty. The only reason to return a warranty card is to find out about product recalls. If you want to return the card for that reason, only provide your name, address, and product serial number.


Business Tools for Junk Mail Reduction

Dealing with unwanted mail can be a drain on the time and resources of your business. Anyone who works in an office can see how much unwanted mail arrives daily and a significant amount of time can be spent handling it. This includes mail that employees don't want, duplicate mailings and mailings to employees who are no longer there. The problem has gotten so bad that some businesses don't even allow Standard Mail (formerly known as Third-Class Mail) to be distributed to employees. Instead, they instruct the mailroom to recycle it all. Even then, it wastes the time of the mailroom staff. So, if your unwanted mail is multiplying like rabbits, reduce it with these junk mail reduction strategies!

Preventing Junk Mail Before It Starts

  • For registration at conferences, workshops, classes, sign-up sheets at meetings, entry forms or whatever - use name, phone, e-mail, but no address.
  • Subscribe electronically to newsletters, magazines, newspapers, etc.
  • Place some standard language on purchase orders, such as, "In the interests of reducing waste, do not add this name or address to mailing lists, or share this name or address with other mailers through mail list sales or trades".
  • Be discriminating when giving out your business card. That's one way businesses develop mailing lists.
  • Ask those receiving incoming calls to your business to screen callers who ask for your company's address, zip code, name of the senior buyer, etc. Some callers may have a good reason for requesting such information, but many just want to add your business to a mailing list.


Reducing Junk Mail After It's Multiplied

Removal From Individual Company Mailing Lists
Most mailers want a written request for removal from mailing lists. This does not need to be an elaborate system, but can be as simple as a brief written or stamped note. Here are 3 easy steps to reduce the unwanted mail:

1. Create a Post-it note with the words "REMOVE FROM MAILING LIST" written or rubber- stamped on it.

2. Look through the unwanted letter, catalog, periodical, etc. for a fax number for the company sending the unwanted mail. In the case of a catalog or periodical, the fax number is usually located on the inside cover or first couple pages. If there's not a fax number, there is probably a phone number and a quick phone call can get you the fax number.

3. Tear off the page from the publication that has the address label on it or use the envelope in which the mail was received, place the Post-it note above the address label and fax it off to the company. You can reuse that same Post-it note over and over again!

This method can be used for reducing mail on an individual basis or your company can place someone in charge of your "Junk Mail Crusade." Often there are several employees receiving junk mail from the same mailer. The "crusader" can sort through the junk mail by mailer and remove several employees at once. Mail sent to terminated employees can also automatically be forwarded to the person in charge of the junk mail so the mailers can be notified.

Removal From Dun and Bradstreet (D&B)
An authorized representative of your business can request a delisting verbally or in writing. According to D&B, the delisting will result in the permanent removal of your business information from marketing directories, publications and/or mailing lists. To request a delisting, call the D&B Customer Service Center at (800) 333-0505 or send an email to custserv@dnb.com

What Doesn't Work

Writing "Return to Sender" and returning junk mail back to the sender does not remove you from mailing lists. Only First-Class Mail and mail marked "Return Service Requested," "Change Service Requested," or "Postmaster Send Change of Address to" will be sent back to the original mailer at their expense. Much of the unwanted mail your business receives is NOT First-Class but is rather Standard-Class or Package Media-Class which does not include return to the original mailer or forwarding services. The Post Office will just dispose of the mail.