Home, Home and Garden

How to Stop Junk Mail In The UK

how to stop junk mail uk

Sick of unsolicited catalogues and letters? Find out how to stop junk mail in the UK with my handy guide.

Junk mail is one of my biggest bugbears. Lately, I’ve taken it on as my own personal mission to stop as much junk mail as possible coming into my house. As such, I’ve found the best places to sign up to stop junk mail. Before we dive in, first, let me warn you, the direct marketing field is a huge money-making machine. Royal Mail wouldn’t even stop delivering junk mail during the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, organisations make it as difficult as possible for you to opt out. Don’t let it deter you though, I’ve got six handy ways to stop as much junk mail as possible.

how to stop junk mail uk

How to Stop UK Junk Mail

 I’ve been doing a ton of research to find out how to stop this barrage of unwanted mail. What can you do to stop junk mail in the UK? Here are my six top tips:

Opt Out of Junk Mail Online

If you are receiving unwanted mail from a company that you have shopped with in the past, or registered with at some point then you can usually take action. Simply log in to their website, and find the section that allows you to update your communication preferences. You should, in theory, be able to opt-out of direct mailings. Instead, you can switch to email only, or opt-out of all communications. Do note that some companies can take up to 12 weeks for these changes to come into place.

Return Unwanted Mail

If you are unable to opt-out of junk mail online, then you can return your unwanted mail. We get so much unwanted mail from H&M. As well as the shop being terrible for the environment, if you buy something online they will automatically put your name on their catalogue distribution list. They will then send you what seems like at least one catalogue a fortnight.  My partner also found himself on that same H&M mailing list, so it came to be that we were receiving two copies of the same catalogue every fortnight.  We seemed unable to stop junk mail from them on their website.

If you are in a similar predicament with direct mailings from a retailer, you can return any personally addressed junk mail to the sender.  Just cross through your address, and add a note to the envelope asking to be removed from their mailing list. Then put it in the post box.  You don’t need to add a stamp – I never do.  Most companies get the message quite quickly and you won’t receive any more unsolicited mail.

Others, like H&M, are a bit slower on the uptake. It took about 3 months of me returning every brochure that was sent to us before they took us off of their list.

Sign Up For The Mail Preference Service

Next on your checklist for stopping junk mail is to sign up for the Mail Preference Service.  This is a free service that you can use to get your name and address removed from lists used by companies to market their products.  This means you should receive no junk mail addressed to you personally from companies that use lists to send out direct marketing materials.

However, signing up to the Mail Preference Service does not stop mail addressed “to the householder” or “to the occupier”. Nor does it stop unaddressed junk mail from being delivered, nor junk mail originating from abroad.

Sign Up for the Fundraising Preference Service

Are you feeling overwhelmed by unwanted marketing contact from a charity? If the charity in question is registered in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland then you can sign up for the Fundraising Preference Service (FPS). After signing up, it takes around 21 days to stop receiving communications from the charity.

The FPS does not apply to charities registered in Scotland. This is because Scottish charities fall under the jurisdiction of the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel (SFSP). If you are receiving a high volume of unwanted mail from a Scottish charity then you can go through the SFSP complaints process to stop this mail.

Use A No Junk Mail Sticker

The next step you can do is to put a “no junk mail”, or “no circulars” sticker or sign on your letterbox.  This will help remind people, such as local fast food shops, not to put circulars through your letterbox. You can find no junk mail stickers on Etsy* from around £2.

Note, that the use of a no junk mail sticker won’t stop the delivery of free newspapers. You’ll have to add a “no free newspapers” sign on your letterbox as well. I know, it’s ridiculous.

Opt-Out of Junk Mail With Royal Mail

A no junk mail sticker will not stop the postman from putting junk mail through your letterbox.  This is because postmen are contractually obligated to give you any junk mail that companies have paid Royal Mail to deliver.  

To stop the postman from delivering junk mail to you, you have to opt-out via the Royal Mail website.  I’ve found that Royal Mail makes this unnecessarily difficult because Royal Mail gets paid to deliver junk mail, so it’s not in their best interests.  You have to download a form, which you then have to fill in send it back to them via the mail. Not email, because you know, it’s not 2021!

It’s certainly less long-winded than it used to be. However, it’s important to bear in mind that this process lets you opt out of junk mail for two years only. After two years, you then have to re-contact Royal Mail and go through the whole rigmarole again.  

Final Thoughts

You probably won’t manage to stop every piece of junk mail from coming into your home. However, following these five steps should hopefully significantly reduce the amount of junk landing on your doormat.

Have I missed anything on how to stop junk mail?  Let me know in the comments below!

Food & Drink

Palm Oil Update

palm oil

Palm oil, it’s pretty pervasive stuff, isn’t it.  

After writing my post on the importance of reducing our consumption of palm oil, I had a look through my cupboards.  I was shocked to see just how many foods had it in them.  A bag of raisins?  Covered in the stuff.  Oatcakes?  Full of oil.  Crackers.  Naan breads. Garlic bread.  So much so that they’re practically dripping in the stuff.

But to be completely honest, trying to reduce our consumption of palm oil has been difficult.  Really difficult.  If not impossible.  I think it’s easier to start slow and replace some things as you go, rather than trying to cut it all out completely.  I’m not sure if we’d eat and clean and wash otherwise.  It’s not helped when you email companies to ask if any/which of their products are palm oil free and weeks later you still haven’t had a response.  Hello Lush and Little Me Organics.

I have had some joy in replacing some products and foodstuffs with palm oil free stuff.  It’s such a minefield though.  With 30 different names for palm oil I can’t be certain, so please don’t take my word for it that these products are indeed 100% free from oil:

palm oil free shopping guide

Food

Equal Exchange peanut butter – my daughter loves peanut butter but the Sunpat stuff she took a liking to is full of sugar and salt.  I was buying Whole Earth peanut butter before as it’s unsugared and unsalted.  Then I found out it too contains palm oil.  Instead, I found this one, which is unsugared, unsalted, and palm oil free.

Mackies Crisps (available at Sainsbury’s) – made with sunflower oil.

Walkers Crisps – made with sunflower oil

Divine Chocolate – too delicious for words

Weetabix – the classic cereal 

Ready Brek and generally any other plain oat cereal (i.e. no chocolate, raisins, or other additions)

Dorset Cereals – all varieties (click on the link to read Dorest Cereal’s palm oil policy).

Toiletries

Sarakan Toothpaste* –  has an unusual taste and texture that takes a bit of getting used to.  However, it is palm oil-free, unlike other brands of natural toothpaste, like Kingfisher.

Cleaning Products

Bio D cleaning products* – palm oil-free products that cover the whole spectrum of cleaning and washing. From dishwashing liquid, kitchen cleaner, laundry liquid, and dishwasher powder for the kitchen.  And for the bathroom, bathroom cleaner and hand soap.  These come in at a more affordable price.  I think it’s around £4.55 for 1 litre of laundry liquid and £1.88 for washing up liquid.

Ecos Laundry Liquid –  does 50 loads of washing.  Bargain.  It also smells lovely.

The Worst Offenders

I was genuinely shocked when I looked at a bag of raisins (a favourite snack in our house).  It turns out palm oil is used as a glazing agent.  Consequently, my favourite cereal, Fruit and Fibre, is out.  And to be honest I’m a little wary of anything with raisins in them.  I’ll replace this with porridge or Dorset Cereals when I’m feeling flush.

I will share any other foodstuffs and products I come across, and if you have any you want to share then please do in the comments below.  I also plan to update you in a little while with how I’m getting on.

NB: This article was written in 2013 when there were considerably fewer resources about palm oil and palm oil free products.  As such there may be errors contained here as things change.  This page is no longer updated – this post is a much more up-to-date resource.