Archive for Thursday, March 20, 2008

For US Postal Service, junk mail is essential

Agency joins fight against efforts to create Do Not Mail Registry

March 20, 2008


— Chris Pearson, a state legislator in Vermont, had a sense that the people were with him when he proposed a bill last November to allow residents to block junk mail.

He got media attention, radio interview requests and e-mails from constituents eager to stop the credit card offers, furniture catalogs and store fliers that increasingly clog their mailboxes.

Then came the pushback from the postmasters, who told Pearson and other lawmakers that "standard" mail, the post office's name for junk mail, has become the lifeblood of the U.S. Postal Service and that jobs depend on it.

"The post office and the business groups are pretty well-organized," said Pearson, whose bill remains in a committee and has not been scheduled for a vote.

Barred by law from lobbying, the Postal Service is nonetheless trying to make its case before a growing number of state legislatures that are weighing bills to create Do Not Mail registries, which are similar to the popular National Do Not Call Registry.

The agency has printed 3,000 "information packets" about the economic value of standard mail, with specific data for each of the 18 states that have considered a Do Not Mail Registry. It has dispatched postmasters to testify before legislative committees around the country.

"The Postal Service has come in and clobbered legislators," said Todd Paglia, executive director of ForestEthics, an environmental group that has collected 289,000 signatures on an online petition to Congress that calls for a National Do Not Mail Registry. "It's really a people-versus-special interest kind of battle."

'Mail Moves America'

The Postal Service is working closely with the Direct Marketing Association, the trade group that represents retailers and the printing industry, in its new campaign - Mail Moves America - which is designed to quash the Do Not Mail initiatives.

So far, their efforts appear effective. None of the states where Do Not Mail legislation has been introduced since 2007 has approved a law. And no similar legislation is pending in Congress.

Sean Sheehan of the Center for a New American Dream, a progressive group based in Takoma Park, Md., said state efforts may precede national action, just as they did with the Do Not Call Registry.

"Federal legislators are more sensitive to the heavy lobbying of the paper industry, as well as the impact on the postal service, whereas a lot of state legislators are really more in tune with local needs," Sheehan said. "It's local governments that have to pay millions to truck that trash out to landfills."

Environmental issues

Perhaps surprisingly, environmental groups - whose members say they are concerned about junk mail - are cool to the idea of a registry that prohibits marketers from sending mail to those enrolled and that fines violators.

One reason may be that most environmental groups are themselves junk mailers. They use standard mail for their solicitation letters.

A national registry "would affect anybody who mails," said Laura Hickey, senior director of global warming education at the National Wildlife Foundation, which belongs to the Direct Marketing Association. "I don't think it would be any different whether you were for-profit or nonprofit." As an alternative, the National Wildlife Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups have created Catalog Choice, a program that asks retailers to voluntarily stop sending catalogs to anyone who signs up for the free online service at

"If people participate in a voluntary system, then I don't see the need for a legislative strategy," Hickey said. When Catalog Choice was launched in October, the foundation expected about 150,000 people to sign up in the first year. Six months into the project, more than 642,000 people have joined.

Still, it is unclear how many marketers are heeding requests to stop mailing.

The Direct Marketing Association operates its own registry, www.dmachoice .org, and in an e-mail sent last November, instructed its members to ignore Catalog Choice.

Postal officials say they are aware of the environmental concerns related to junk mail. In testimony on Capitol Hill last week, Postmaster General John E. Potter told lawmakers that the Postal Service has one answer: Recycling bins positioned beneath personal mailboxes at post offices, to catch junk mail as it tumbles out.


estespark 10 years, 3 months ago

Loudmouth, do you pay your parking tickets in pennies? :)

hawklet21 10 years, 3 months ago

TV isn't an advertising medium if you don't watch the commercials.

hawklet21 10 years, 3 months ago

But there is product placement... Dang. Nevermind.

trinity 10 years, 3 months ago

hawklet-confused, much? ;) friday eve! wootwoot!!!

Flap Doodle 10 years, 3 months ago

snap writes:

What is the electronic equivalent to junk mail? Oh what, oh what could it be?

trinity 10 years, 3 months ago

heheeee that question was heavy on my mind too, snap...

blahblahblah 10 years, 3 months ago

I like junk mail. Without it, I would have never known that I may have already won 85 bajillion dollars! All I had to do was sign over my house, car, and first born. Small price to pay!

trinity 10 years, 3 months ago

i am so innundated with law that i'm taking off here in a bit to watch KU play b-ball, then frolic in the sunshine this afternoon probably on my motorbike.

Flap Doodle 10 years, 3 months ago

trinity, romping in a field is always good. Watch out for lemurs.

hawklet21 10 years, 3 months ago

Marion, you should know that there is no such thing as personal responsibility. There always has to be SOMEONE to place the blame on!!

Meatwad 10 years, 3 months ago

I would like it if "Robo Calls" were banned. Some politician should make that one of his/her platforms.

RedwoodCoast 10 years, 3 months ago

Loudmouth up at the top might indeed be "getting back" at someone. I've actually used those postage-paid envelopes in that exact manner. For me, it is more of a practical joke. I once put a big wad of cat fur in one. If you think about it, you're just creating more business for the USPS.

Flap Doodle 10 years, 3 months ago

snap writes:












Drew_Carey 10 years, 3 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says:

hawklet21 (Anonymous) says:

TV isn't an advertising medium if you don't watch the commercials."

Marion writes:

Hawklet21, you obviously have no place on this forum!

Your post clearly shows that you are capable of exercising personal resposiblity by doing things like hitting the "mute" button!

Not many like you around here!

Uh, I think hawklet21 was making a joke here and it was missed. I think it was a parody of; "If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, there was no sound."

I could be wrong,but I'm giving points to him anyway, just because I can.

50 pts to hawklet.

WillKC 10 years, 3 months ago

Looking beyond the success or failure of these state initiatives, what they've proven is that there's real frustration about junk mail and desire for some sort of solution that gives Americans control over a wasteful cycle that they don't want and never asked for. The petition for a national solution at is the product of the passion generated by all these state efforts. 30% of all the mail delivered in the world is US junk mail. Why are we receiving nearly a third of the world's mail when we don't want it?

hawklet21 10 years, 3 months ago

Drew_Carey (Anonymous) says: "Uh, I think hawklet21 was making a joke here and it was missed. I think it was a parody of; "If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to hear it, there was no sound."

I could be wrong,but I'm giving points to him anyway, just because I can.

50 pts to hawklet."

I don't know what the 50 points will do, so I'll take a plus one for the ego instead! :P

Should I have spelled my name hawklette instead? Because I'm a chick......lette.

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