Kicking Junk

It's intrusive and it clutters your mailbox. It kills nearly 100 million trees annually and produces as much CO2 as 3.7 million cars, according to ForestEthics. If the environmental nonprofit has its way, junk mail will nearly go extinct.

The agency launched its "Do Not Mail" registry in March on the fifth anniversary of the start of the FTC's Do Not Call list - which has 145.5 million registered numbers - registered 34,000 names in its first month, says spokesperson Will Craven.

"What's important to understand is that Do Not Call took 10 years to pass," says Craven. "This is just the beginning. There's a great public demand for a solution to junk mail," including, he says, 18 state bills currently in progress.

He notes that Do Not Mail has more opposition than Do Not Call, including most of the catalog industry and the USPS, which makes the bulk of its revenue today from direct mail. "They're fighting us," Craven says. But ForestEthics isn't worried. "We're pleased with the pace at which we've been getting signatures. And we're in this for the long haul."

This registry also has power by way of publicity - with the backing of celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Adrian Grenier and Daryl Hannah. Even industry cataloger Paul Hawken, founder of the Smith & Hawken catalog has signed on.

Unlike his peers, says state representative Chris Pearson (D-VT), Hawken is "looking at business practices that he himself uses, he wants to figure out a new way forward. He knows it's time to change."

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