ECONOTES : One Way Junk Mail Won't Go to Waste


Want to take a positive step to help reduce junk mail? Just dash off your nominations for the first annual Junk Mail Awards. No official entry form needed.

The contest is sponsored by the new National Waste Prevention Coalition, an ad hoc group of municipal recyclers, organized last fall in Portland, Ore.

"We think waste prevention is the next frontier in waste management," says Tom Watson of Seattle, a recycler with the King County Solid Waste Division. "Preventing waste makes so much more sense than recycling it. We want it to be a household phrase, like 'fire prevention' and 'drug prevention.' "

Casting around for a project to dramatize waste prevention, the group settled on junk mail. The U.S. Postal Service reports that the average American household receives more than 500 pieces of advertising mail, or direct mail, a year and a lot of it goes into the trash can unopened.

Because the focus of the awards project is to encourage direct-mail senders to be less wasteful, the NWPC wants both good and bad examples. The nomination categories are:

* Best ongoing direct mailer (business or organization).

* Worst ongoing direct mailer.

* Best single example of responsible direct mail.

* Worst single example of direct mail.

The coalition has already received nominations from around the country. One Pennsylvania woman, who still receives credit applications for her son who died 12 years ago, responds that companies can send them to his permanent address, c/o God, in Heaven.

This is a positive project, not just one out to bash junk mail, Watson emphasizes. "Direct mail is a legitimate industry and a legitimate form of advertising. The focus of this project is to try and get senders of direct mail to be less wasteful."

The winners and losers will be announced this fall, and NWPC plans to send information on making mailings less wasteful to all the losers.

June 23 is the deadline for nominations, which may be sent to NWPC, P.O. Box 24545, Seattle, Wash., 98124-0545.

Or you may e-mail your nominations (, which would be most appropriate, Watson says: "Nominations without using paper really tie in with waste prevention."

And, Watson promises, people submitting nominations will not be placed on a mailing list.


Roundup: The City of Los Angeles' Hazmobile will be parked in Van Nuys from Thursday to June 24 and from June 29 to July 1 to collect household waste. If you need to get rid of paint, motor oil, pesticides or other chemicals that can't be poured down the drain, call (800) 552-5218 to find out where you can drive through and drop off . . . And to keep the household poison count down in the future, refer to "Clean and Green, the Complete Guide to Nontoxic Housekeeping" (Ceres Press, 1989), by Annie Berhold-Bond. You've heard of cooking from scratch? This, she says, is cleaning from scratch.

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