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Sick of Junk Mail?

Just say no with a red dot


Most mailboxes are stuffed with junk mail that, at best, receives a quick glimpse before being trashed.

Flyers! Flyers! Flyers! Two-for-one pizzas! Houses for sale and just sold! Fifty percent off my next muffler! Most mailboxes are stuffed with junk mail that, at best, receives a quick glimpse before being trashed.

It’s a good thing that a federal program and a bunch of red dots are helping to reduce this environmentally unfriendly form of advertising. For the past 11 years, Canada Post has offered Canadians the opportunity to opt out of receiving junk mail.

Who knew?

Beth Ringdahl did, and now she is on a mission.

“I’m concerned by the carbon footprint of mass advertising,” says the Vancouver eco-marketer. “We have to re-evaluate how we use our resources.”

Overall, Canadians are inundated by $19 billion of advertising annually, according to the Canadian Marketing Association. Paper-based advertising in particular uses up a lot of water, electricity, fossil fuels, and trees.

Paper pollution

The Canadian flyer industry contributes more than 1 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. Yet the standard industry response rate is only 2 percent.

“That’s a 98 percent failure rate,” Ringdahl says. “There’s so much clutter and so many messages in our lives, it’s time to start [marketing] brands in different places.”

This includes the Internet, which is where you will find Ringdahl’s Red Dot Campaign—named for the red dot that Canada Post uses in their files to indicate households that have vetoed unaddressed admail. Since January 2008, has taken off, proving we don’t have to be victims of literary litter.

Five percent of households have already opted out using Canada Post’s “Consumer Choice” option, according to the Red Dot website. Advertisers use Canada Post numbers to plan their print runs, so the more people who say no, the more waste is reduced over the long term. It couldn’t be easier to take a few simple steps that can save a lot of trees.

How to detox your mailbox

Step one
Put a “No Ad Mail or “No Junk Mail” sign on your mailbox, which carriers are supposed to heed. Rules vary in different regions, so check for specifics.

Step two
Write a letter to Canada Post indicating you don’t want any unaddressed mail delivered to your home. Ringdahl’s website offers a sample.

Step three
Register on the Canadian Marketing Association’s “Do Not Contact” service at, which will reduce mail-out advertising from its members.

You can also write to: Do Not Mail Service, c/o Canadian Marketing Association, 1 Concorde Gate, Suite 607, Don Mills, Ontario M3C 3N6.



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