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. All those precious natural resources are taken up to make these mailings which just end up in the bin the minute they enter your home. 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 help stop junk mail coming through your letterbox.
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 of direct mailing. Don’t let it deter you though, I’ve got six handy ways to stop as much junk mail as possible.
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, or 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 2022!
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.
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!