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How to Annihilate Your IRL Junk Mail and Save the Planet

It's time for Spectrum’s reign of household terror to come to an end

If I receive one more letter from Spectrum, I’m going to self-immolate. No, I won’t be switching to their internet service just because they’ve mailed me three letters a week for the last six months with a short-term “SPECIAL OFFER!!!” This cable service’s reign of terror must come to an end. I need to unsubscribe IRL.

But how?

If Spectrum were sending me emails, it’d be simple enough. I’d simply click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the message. But real mail offers no such option. Instead, it takes a lot more effort — way more time than just letting that junk mail pile up week after week and recycling it when you run out of counter space.

First of all, a quick word with my competing internet provider, along with West Elm, Athleta, Design Within Reach (spoiler: It’s not), Valpak and Chase Bank: How dare you! Who do you think you are, invading my space with your unwanted content? I didn’t ask for this. Learn some respect. Secondly, shame on you for destroying old-growth forests just to spam people. Sixty-eight percent of paper ends up recycled, according to the American Forest & Paper Association. That rate has been steadily increasing; only 38 percent was recycled in 1990. Still, around 25 million tons of paper goes unrecycled. Not to mention, the environmental cost of ink, transit and those fake credit cards that end up in the mix aren’t negligible.

Obviously, the onus is on massive corporations to confront global warming with any real effectiveness, but that doesn’t mean you need to just sit back as their companies clog up your mailbox with shitty notices.

Tell them that you make the rules now, bitch. Here’s how.

Not Your Mail? Not Your Freaking Problem

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You’re probably getting junk mail that doesn’t even have your name on it. Since it’s probably for a former tenant, there is something you can do.

If the mail is in someone else’s name, cross out the barcode, write “Return to Sender: Recipient Moved” or something along those lines, and leave that baby out for pickup. Your local post office should understand that this person no longer lives there. If it keeps happening, go to your post office and speak to the postmaster directly.

Make Customer Service Work for You

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Let’s say — total hypothetical here! — that Spectrum has been waging a nonstop harassment campaign against you. Handle the problem with the company directly. Find a customer-service chat function online, so you don’t have to use your human voice and risk vulnerability. Give ’em your name and address and say you no longer want to receive mail from them. This should work for those pesky letters addressed to Current Resident or Our Neighbor or whatever.

If there is no chat function, sadly, you’ll need to pick up the phone and try your best to make a human connection with the person getting paid $28,869 per year to deal with customers made miserable by their parent company. It’ll be worth it.

Annihilate Them All

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If you’re receiving junk mail from a plethora of random sources, contacting customer service for each might be a bit of a hassle. Take the easy way out.

For $2, you can create an account with the Data & Marketing Association online and opt out from receiving mail. Here’s the thing: Because we live in a Big Brother-panopticon-horror state, they already have your info and are likely distributing it to other corporate members so they can send you endless catalogues for garden gnomes and shit.

It’s annoying that you have to pay them to get them to stop sending you mail you didn’t even ask for, but it’s a small price to pay for mailbox liberation. Alternatively, you can also request that they begin sending you catalogues for garden gnomes, if that’s what you’re into. You can also notify them that someone has died, and not to give you any ideas or anything, but it doesn’t look like there’s anything they can really do to confirm.

So honestly, the best way to stop receiving junk mail is to fake your death. Retreat to the woods. Tell no one. Whittle your garden gnomes yourself.