The Definition of Junk

The Definition of Junk

In the last month or so, Canada Post has been writing to people with ‘no flyer’ stickers on their mailboxes and asking them to reconsider. The agency used its list of people who have requested NOT to receive unaddressed mail and sent them a “Dear Occupant” letter (no irony there).

The letter tries to get the no-flyer people to realize how much they are missing, and explains that they could possibly save money and be more connected to their community if they removed their ‘no flyer’ notice and let the junk mail back in – the coupons, flyers, catalogues, community notices and product samples, not to mention fundraising appeals. All the no-flyer people have to do is send back the included postcard, which commits them to receiving unaddressed mail, and to removing their no-flyer stickers. Easy peasy! (...huh?)

Refusing junk mail is one of the simplest ways to reduce waste. Put up a sign on your mailbox and you will receive less unwanted paper in your house, and less paper will go to recycling or, worse, landfill. For a company producing flyers, if people don’t want their materials, it’s good to know. They can print fewer flyers, it costs less and they are sending their message out to the more receptive folks. It’s all good. The only entity that loses in the no-junk-mail scenario is the one that gets paid according to the number of pieces of junk mail they deliver … hence Canada Post’s appeal to change our minds.

So how should we respond to Canada Post? Let’s make it hurt a little more. Leave your no-flyer sign right where it is and encourage your friends and neighbours to join you. Check out the Red Dot Campaign ( for specific actions you can take to reduce all forms of junk mail. (to Canada Post:  things change … deal with it).

My favourite part of the Canada Post letter is the end where they assure the ‘occupant’ that the card, letter and envelope were all printed on sustainable  papers that could be recycled, as is much of the junk mail they are urging you to receive. Y’know… reduction is at the top of the 3 Rs list for a reason. It is THE MOST EFFECTIVE waste strategy. Asking people to slide down to recycling reminds me of an old cartoon that shows a very large person with a cafeteria tray piled high with sweets and snacks asking the cashier “Got any diet drinks?”  Yup… I think they missed the point.