By Liesl Clark
According to some estimates, the average US household receives 850 unsolicited pieces of mail each year. Well we’re way over that average, I believe. And I’ve tried for years to reduce it. Here’s a picture of one month’s-worth of junk mail sitting on my desk:
Enter PaperKarma. As a Buddhist, I admit I was immediately drawn to the app.
I’m on every do-not-send-list I could possibly sign up for through the Direct Marketing Association, and I’ve diligently kept up with Catalog Choice in getting rid of unwanted (that means all) catalogs but I still find that I have to call companies in-person to request no more catalogs around Christmas-time. My last ditch effort was to try the mobile app called PaperKarma.
This app, named “The Catalog Killer” by Entrepreneur Magazine is FUN! Imagine receiving an unwanted piece of mail, taking a picture of it, hitting a button and seeing all future solicitations from said company (eventually) disappear forever. That’s what PaperKarma offers. And I’m inclined to believe they’re going to follow through with their promise. It’s been about 6 weeks since I started reducing my own paper karma and we’re definitely receiving less junk mail. Some days we even receive, gasp, no mail. A few pieces of unwanted mail keep trickling in, but they’re ones we haven’t reported to PaperKarma yet. So I diligently send a quick picture to the PaperKarma robot that gracefully sends a notice to the offender to make sure they take me off their mailing list.
PaperKarma is like having a mail (not male) secretary who handles something that’s offensive to you which you have scant time to deal with. I feel like the CEO of my household domain every time I get a notice from PaperKarma saying they’ve successfully reached one of those corporations I didn’t ask to be targeted by. This is what apps were meant to be, our behind-the-scenes-clean-up-our-messes-while-defending-our-ideals-and-hence-saving-the-environment-type of digital enterprise. PaperKarma is also local, i.e. they’re Seattle-based and we’re just a hop on a ferry away, so I feel like we’re supporting a local enterprise that has huge national impact.
If you have a smartphone, download PaperKarma — it’s free. If “karma,” like “samsara,” is an action or deed that brings light upon the cyclical reality of cause-and-effect, PaperKarma’s bots are truly karmic. Join me in looking forward to getting a rare piece of junk mail, just to experience the sweet pleasure of being a tattle-tale, reporting that offender to PaperKarma’s bots that’ll set in motion the cause-and-effect of requesting to be removed from unwanted mailing lists. Federal law says companies must comply if such a request is made. And if they don’t, PaperKarma will check in with you to see who’s not listening and follow through on your behalf. It’s joyful, this process, and will save hundreds and thousands of trees as well as carbon in the delivery of your unwanted mail and wasted marketing brain cells on people like you and me.
Do visit our Trash Backwards app to get more ideas on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle your junk mail. We have links to Cagalog Choice and DMA Choice there for you. And as junk mail comes in, while you wait for PaperKarma to have their effect, you can try your hand at some great reuse ideas: