You've got (junk) mail (and craft materials)!
May 24, 2009 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Your household probably gets something like 800 pieces of junk mail per year. Other than sighing and tossing the junk into your recycling bin, what are your options? Of course, I’d urge you to support any one of the numerous current anti-junk mail campaigns (do be aware of any possible conflicts of interest), but until those measures take effect, there is always crafting.

You could make pop-up Christmas cards, Easter cards, or reminder cards. You could make envelopes, or simply turn old envelopes inside out for a second useage. You can make gift bags, or recycled handmade paper, decorate your paper clips, or make a homemade filing system. You could make a dress and matching clutch for the upcoming Postman’s Ball, hats for your child’s birthday party, or save the junk mail for your child’s craft supplies box. You could also make a wreath, tree ornaments, a table or two, shag carpeting, or window blinds.

Or you could make art out of your junk mail. Patricia Zapata, of the blog A Little Hut, explains how to create junk mail art in this podcast. You could make collages like artist Sandy Schimmel, or junk mail trees like Florida State University art professor George Blakely. If you’re feeling especially militant about the anti-junk mail cause, you could make a tank to let everyone know. And if none of the above ideas work for you, check out these lists.
posted by orange swan (29 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
My preference is:
Take the return envelope, tape it to a brick, and mail it back to them...

it's much more satisfying!
posted by HuronBob at 3:01 PM on May 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


Don't forget Junk Mail Man!
posted by mattdidthat at 3:03 PM on May 24, 2009


u.s. mail is cracking down on outright abuse like the envelope to a brick these days so you to be more subtle.
thus, i am more of the mind to stuff as much of other companies junk mail as i can, cutting out or crossing out very thoroughly personally identifiable information, into the envelope and mail that back to them since it will be delivered.

for postcards, i write false information in chickenscratch.
posted by the aloha at 3:06 PM on May 24, 2009


My preference is:
Take the return envelope, tape it to a brick, and mail it back to them...

it's much more satisfying!


Than crafting? I think not.

Though I will admit it approaches rivalry. Provided you have 800 bricks to spare every year.
posted by orange swan at 3:32 PM on May 24, 2009


the aloha: "for postcards, i write false information in chickenscratch."

The first stop for those postcards is some poor college student with a data entry job. While morally on a similar level as telemarketers, it may do best to just write words of encouragement or good jokes on the cards and send them back. The company takes the same hit, but the shit shoveler sharing a cubicle in B-12 has a marginally better time of it.
posted by The White Hat at 3:34 PM on May 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


Another option: Junk Mail Fire Logs (basic, mid-range, or fancy)
posted by filthy light thief at 3:39 PM on May 24, 2009


Here in Belgium, it's possible to opt out (most) unaddressed junk mail with a simple sticker on your letterbox.

However, I still have a problem with political pamphlets. In particular, the far-right Flemish nationalist anal orifices of the "Vlaams Belang" party are very insistent, and I find their stuff (mostly nasty, xenophobic rants against foreigners -such as me- "taking our jobs") rather more offensive than supermarket fliers. I've been thinking for a while about how to get even with them. Fortunately, their pamphlets always come with a return form to enter one's address so as to request "further information". Suffice to say that the Embassies of certain Middle Eastern countries may get some surprising mail in the future...
posted by Skeptic at 3:45 PM on May 24, 2009


In the UK, registering with the Mailing Preference Service eliminates just about all junk mail.
posted by ceiriog at 3:50 PM on May 24, 2009


I got a copy of Junk Mail Origami for Christmas.
posted by furtive at 4:35 PM on May 24, 2009


I went away for a week just last week and left a 'no junk mail, please' note on my mailbox. Only one little card when I got back, so seems to have worked. No actual mail, either, though, so I may have just pissed off my mailman. Will wait another week to see what happens.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:09 PM on May 24, 2009


Your household probably gets something like 800 pieces of junk mail per year.

If you live in the United States. In most of the rest of the world we have things tuned to a slightly more sane level. Everywhere I have lived, each bit of junk mail stands out as remarkable, I get maybe one or two bits a month.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:11 PM on May 24, 2009


Junk mail is even more irritating than usual here because I have a small irregularly shaped mailbox, and it can barely fit all the junk mail it gets. Frequently my real mail is warped because there's too much junk stuffed in there. I have all important documents sent to work so they won't get destroyed. I've tried to unsubscribe from, at the very least, the people who send me supermarket fliers a couple of times a week, but to no avail.
posted by grouse at 6:17 PM on May 24, 2009


Does the "no junk mail please" signage actually work in the U.S.? I figured it wasn't up to the individual postman to decide whether or not something gets delivered.
posted by odinsdream at 8:25 PM on May 24, 2009


I like to put the entire contents in the postage paid envelope and mail it back to them. If it's something especially obnoxious, I'll also put in a note telling them to kindly go f**k themselves.
posted by mike3k at 9:18 PM on May 24, 2009


I have a "No Junk Please" sign on mymail slot. I don't get junk mail or fliers anymore. I live in Canada though.
posted by joelf at 9:42 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shameless plug: I've been twittering about junk mail for a while. When I find out about services, both for-pay (ProQuo, Tonic Mailstopper, 41pounds) and free (Catalog Choice), I link to them.

I also give phone numbers for all the places I opt out of junk mail manually.
posted by paulschreiber at 11:25 PM on May 24, 2009


I have a "No Junk Please" sign on mymail slot. I don't get junk mail or fliers anymore. I live in Canada though.

What a sane, decent solution.

(But when I put "No Junk" up on my mail box, the next day there was a note that said "That's for sure. And no curtains, either.")
posted by pracowity at 3:37 AM on May 25, 2009


There is no comparison between the annoyance of junk mail and the annoyance of a telemarketing phone call. You actually have a choice to read or toss junk mail. If you don't like it, toss it. Junk mail is advertising. If you don't like advertising, move to North Korea. And if junk mail is the biggest problem in your life, stop in at the church, temple or mosque of your choice, and thank God that you live in a place where you aren't afraid of bombs falling on your head, or thugs breaking into your home, or floods washing away everything you own, and that you are strong, healthy and sound enough of mind and body to actually find something as innocuous as junk mail worthy of complaining about.
posted by Faze at 5:49 AM on May 25, 2009


There is no comparison between the annoyance of junk mail and the annoyance of a telemarketing phone call.

Strictly in terms of interruption level, that may be true -- I can decide not to read most junk mail in about a second or two per piece, and a piece of junk mail won't tear itself open and start reading itself to me even as I try to jam it into the garbage -- but a piece of junk mail times a million is a large waste of paper and printing and delivery and removal and dump space that people don't have to like, and it is particularly aggravating when it is difficult to stop the delivery of junk mail (and junk calls) to your home.

And while most problems are not nearly as bad as living in the middle of a war, that doesn't mean we should all shut up about our problems.
posted by pracowity at 6:20 AM on May 25, 2009


Faze, if people complaining about junk mail is the biggest problem in your life, stop in at the church, temple or mosque of your choice, and thank God that you live in a place where you aren't afraid of bombs falling on your head, or thugs breaking into your home, or floods washing away everything you own, and that you are strong, healthy and sound enough of mind and body to actually find something as innocuous as other people expressing their thoughts on junk mail worthy of complaining about.
posted by grouse at 6:58 AM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Personally, I am fascinated by some of the junk mail I get. Primarily, the way so much of it is designed to look as much like "official" or "government" communication, in order to trick the recipient into opening the envelope. Still others are disguised to look as much like a FedEx or PriorityMail packet, something that people might automatically assume is important mail.

I also make note of how sophisticated the use of "handwritten" fonts and printers are becoming. They are getting quite good at simulating actual handwriting.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:00 AM on May 25, 2009


... a piece of junk mail times a million is a large waste of paper and printing and delivery and removal and dump space that people don't have to like

Okay, let me put it this way, junk mail is advertising and advertising turns the wheels of commerce, and as much as we don't like it, if you had a product to sell, you'd be grateful to have the US Mail as another way to get the message out about your product, or charity, or scam. Junk mail is an expression of a free society, and you can take it or drop it into the waste basket (as I mostly do).
posted by Faze at 7:29 AM on May 25, 2009


Okay, let me put it this way, junk mail is advertising and advertising turns the wheels of commerce, and as much as we don't like it, if you had a product to sell, you'd be grateful to have the US Mail as another way to get the message out about your product, or charity, or scam.

And, as a free society, you can organize with others to try and stop a practise which is detrimental to the public good. Commerce will find another avenue to invade people's attention space soon enough, hopefully one that's less wasteful.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:43 AM on May 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Um. Isn't anyone going to even mention the crafting component to this post?
posted by orange swan at 9:06 AM on May 25, 2009


It's not "junk" mail, it's "fun surprise mail."
posted by chococat at 9:21 AM on May 25, 2009


Most of the junk mail I get comes in the form of those supermarket weeklies and coupon things. I find that crumpling them up makes for good filler when shipping fragile items, and is a more environmentally friendly solution than plastic bubble wrap.

On a related note, if you work in an office environment, encourage people to save packing materials. Many shipping centers collect and recycle or reuse those foam peanuts, and bubble wrap can (and should) be reused.

The link about re-using old envelopes is interesting: I tend to save the envelopes that come in junk mail (to mail stuff back) and re-use them by marking out the company name on them. It might look ghetto as hell, but on the other hand, I haven't had to purchase envelopes in some time! (granted, I don't mail that many letters these days either.)
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:46 AM on May 25, 2009


Thanks for the ideas. I used to make paper but haven't for a while - I like the idea of junk mail paper, will give that a go.
posted by paduasoy at 10:22 AM on May 25, 2009


I really like the idea of making envelopes out of it, but I've got a No Junk Mail sticker up and the compost bin takes care of the few persistent "it's not junk, it's useful info about real estate!" hold-outs.

Although I'm eyeing off that giant, nearly-toppling stack of magazines I've got, and wondering how many envelopes a girl can use in a year...
posted by harriet vane at 4:09 AM on May 26, 2009


My wife and I play "Val-Pak Bingo" with those fat envelopes of coupons for the local business.

Sight unseen, she has to guess the categories of coupons contained in the envelope. Common coupons include glass-block windows, dry cleaning, car oil changes, pizza, etc.

It's slightly more entertaining this way.


Although, truth be told, I'd rather find a way to burn the junk mail for heat next winter.
posted by Wild_Eep at 8:44 AM on May 26, 2009


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