Campaign seeks to save paper by refusing junk mail

Melissa Leong ,  Canwest News Service

Published: Sunday, February 10, 2008

TORONTO - A Vancouver businesswoman is urging Canadians to save on paper by asking Canada Post to stop delivering junk mail to their homes.

Beth Ringdahl started the Red Dot Campaign two weeks ago to spotlight a 10-year-old Canada Post policy that allows people to opt out of receiving unaddressed mail.

A resident simply has to put a notice on the mailbox and after confirming the request, Canada Post will put a red sticker or dot inside the mailbox to remind the mail carrier that the resident does not want junk mail.

Red Dot Campaign aims to reduce waste by refusing junk mail.

Red Dot Campaign aims to reduce waste by refusing junk mail.

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"It's time that we examine the waste in all aspects of our life and our business," said Ringdahl, who started her own "green" marketing company. "We're hoping that our collective voice urges advertisers to use more socially-responsible marketing strategies."

A "no junk mail" notice has been downloaded more than 3,000 times from Ringdahl's website,

She is working on translating her message to make it available to different communities.

"With the ethnic market, a lot of this advertising is even more irrelevant and they may not know they even have a choice."

So far, only six per cent of Canadians opt out, John Caines, a spokesman for Canada Post, said. He said internal surveys and research indicate that people find the material convenient.

According to Canada Post, more than 60 per cent of Canadians look through unaddressed advertising mail while more than 80 per cent of them read it if it is addressed to them.

Canada Post made $339 million in revenue in 2006, up 14.4 per cent from 2005, by delivering unaddressed marketing material.

In 2006, 16.6 billion pieces of unaddressed print advertising was distributed in Canada. But only 20 per cent of it comes from Canada Post, Caines said. Half of the material arrives with daily and weekly newspapers, he said.

"At least we give consumers a choice. If they notify our carrier, then we will respect that."

Most of the promotional mail sent through Canada Post is recyclable and printed on recycled paper and one could argue, Caines says, that planning a shopping excursion from home allows people to drive around less, thus saving on gas.

Canadians who opt out of receiving junk mail will still get government mailings and community newspapers; however, they will not receive some municipal notices such as snow removal and garbage pick-up schedules.


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