How to Dispose of Junk Mail?

The easiest way to dispose of junk mail is by tossing it into the curbside recycling bin to take it to a recycling facility for disposal. However, it’s not all that simple.

There are some factors you need to consider before throwing away the stacks of unnecessary papers in your mailbox.

Not all junk mails are safe for recycling, which is why knowing how to separate the ones recyclable from unrecyclable is essential.

Recyclability of Different Junk Mails

As mentioned above, not all junk mail is made the same and can be recycled the same as well.

Some may contain contaminants, making them unsuitable for running through a recycling plant.

Typically, any envelope with significant traces of plastic or other non-biodegradable materials is not safe for recycling.

Paper Mail

The most fundamental mail is on a standard, recyclable piece of paper. Go through your mailbox and pick out all the simple paper-based mails to toss them into the recycling bin.

However, if there is one with your personal details, you might want to shred it to ensure your information doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

Once you have shredded the documents, sending them for recycling may not be possible anymore. But you can chuck it into the compost bin in your yard and use it as compost later.

Since standard paper contains organic components, it can easily work as compost. So, try doing that!

Newsprint Junk Mail

Sending out newsletters and mails on newsprint is considered an old-school approach now.

Nonetheless, many brands continue to do so to gain customers. Does it work? Hard to say but what it does do is add to people’s pile of junk mail.

To dispose of newsprint drafts, look for a newspaper recycling facility nearby and connect with it to get rid of your newsprint mail junk.

That said, sometimes people don’t have to make so much effort as curbside recycling accepts newsprint junk.

So, go through your options before deciding what to do.


Catalogs are arguably one of the most significant contributors to the junk piling up in our mailboxes. They are frequently received, which is why they occupy a major portion of one’s mailbox.

However, the good news is that they are easy to recycle. All you need to do is put them in the recycling bin curbside and let the waste disposal people treat them.

That said, sometimes catalogs can turn out to be useful, especially if you have kids or are interested in arts and crafts yourself.

A catalog has various pictures, ideal for putting together a collage or using it in an art project.

Unless you are 100% sure that you will not need one in the future for any reason whatsoever, don’t throw it away.

Light Cardboard Letters

Some fancy companies like to advertise on light cardboard to add a little pizzazz to their marketing strategy.

Many people assume that they cannot put cardboard out for recycling, but that’s not true. It is essentially paper, just a bit heavier and, at times, glossy. Nonetheless, it can be easily recycled.

However, don’t try to mix it with compost as cardboard is not all organic.

Glossy Ads

Glossy paper is often considered different than regular paper, which it isn’t for the most part.

Glossy paper is almost exactly the standard paper made from trees; the only difference between the two is that the former uses additives to get the sheen on top.

The compounds used to make a paper lustrous can either be natural or synthetic.

If they are organic, the paper produced is 100% recyclable, whereas if they are artificial, the resulting product is not recyclable.

Generally, fine clay or resin is used to make glossy paper, which is safe for recycling. But when it comes to synthetic materials, manufacturers can at times use plastic.

A paper coated in plastic cannot be recycled as its coating becomes a contaminant in the recycling plant. 

If you wish to send the glossy ads for recycling, you must check if they contain natural additives or are wrapped in plastic. There are three ways to do that.

Try Tearing the Paper

Papers containing organic additives are easy to tear. If the ads you are able to rip the junk ads without much struggle, you can put them out for recycling.

Crumple the Paper

Take a piece of glossy ads you wish to dispose of and crumple it; if it takes its form back, it contains synthetic compounds and is not suitable for recycling.

On the contrary, if it doesn’t restore its shape, it is all-natural.

Dip Pieces OF Paper in Water

Tear an ad into small pieces and drop them in a bowl of water. Let the bits sit for a while.

After 2-3 hours have passed, check the paper pieces; if they seem to be dissolving, they are free of any artificial compounds.

If not, they have synthetic additives; hence not safe for recycling.

Once you have determined if the ads you intend to get rid of are suitable for recycling, send them away to a relevant facility.

Envelopes Holding the Mails

Envelopes constitute a big part of junk found in our mailboxes.

But luckily, they are totally recyclable as well. However, like with most other recyclable items, there are exceptions to consider.

Some mail-carrying casings come with a flimsy plastic window, which may or may not be recycled, depending on the plant’s policy in your area.

But the envelopes that are definitely not recycled are the padded ones as those contain contaminating materials that can cease a functioning recycling plant.

Therefore, when putting envelopes out into the recycling bin, be sure to check each one thoroughly, so no unsuitable item makes it to the recycling facility.

Tips on Recycling Junk Mail

Sorting out junk mail can be exhausting, but if you do it often, you can minimize your trouble.

Look For Cards As They Come

Often, junk mail can have envelopes with fake cards from banks to entice people to get one.

If a casing containing a card ends up in a recycling plant, it will contaminate the system.

Therefore, to save yourself from unnecessary hassle, check your mailbox often and remove all faux cards so that you have to simply toss the mail for recycling later.

Separate Your Mails

As tedious as it may seem, separating your mail into categories will significantly help you with the disposal process and reduce your effort later on.

By doing so, you will divide the task into parts, making it much more manageable and less tedious.

Naturally, if you have to do everything in one sitting, i.e., take out the mails, check them, sort them and dispose of them, you will be bone-tired by the end of the session.

So, don’t burden yourself too much and take one step at a time.

Check Your Mailbox Daily

If you cannot separate your junk mail every few days, consider going through your mailbox at the end of each day.

This way, you will not have to deal with stacks of papers at a time.

Besides, emptying the mailbox daily is not that difficult as the amount of documents and flyers inside isn’t much. In fact, many times, you’d be surprised to see it without any mail!

Bonus Tip: Tired of receiving junk mail? Well, there is an easy way to stop them from coming; unsubscribe from all newsletters, and you will notice a considerable drop in the envelopes you get in your mailbox.

Why Is Disposing Junk Mail Essential?

Despite living in the digital era where everything is available online, some enterprises choose to employ the old-school marketing strategy to send out personalized mail to consumers.

Research shows that an average American Joe gets at least 16 articles every week. Out of those 16, 44% remain sealed, and only 40% are recycled.

According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recycling junk mail takes approximately 320$ million a year. 

On top of the financial impact of paper mailings, the environmental impact is significant. 

Firstly, almost 100 million trees are cut down yearly to supply paper used for mailings.

Once the greenery is cleared, the level of carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.

Lastly, it is estimated that junk mail is responsible for releasing carbon emissions equivalent to that of 9 cars. 

Simply put, making and disposing of junk mail is needlessly expensive, not to mention completely unnecessary.

The world now functions on the internet, which means there is really no need to waste paper on junk mail, especially when so much is at stake.

In simple terms, recycling junk mail can help the environment in the following ways.

  • It reduces the volume of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
  • It saves approximately 70% of energy and water resources consumed if a new paper is manufactured.
  • It slows down deforestation.

Junk mail is nothing but paper, so logically speaking, if it’s disposed of right, we’ll have a much cleaner environment.

Ending Note

As annoying as you may find getting rid of junk mail, you need to do it right to help Mother Nature. Besides, doing so will keep your mailbox and home clutter-free.

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