Stop Junk Mail is a not-for-profit junk mail advice service. The main aim of this website is to give you objective and unambiguous information about reducing unsolicited mail and other forms of junk marketing. Stop Junk Mail is also a campaign aiming to make it easier for you to cut back on unwanted marketing.
A short history
Stop Junk Mail started in 2004 as a local campaign in my home town Norwich. My idea was to promote letterbox stickers that say 'no' to commercial leaflets and either 'yes' or 'no' to free newspapers. Similar 'No/No' and 'No/Yes' stickers are popular in the Netherlands, where I worked as a postman. In Holland, all people need to do to stop free newspapers and/or leaflets is put a freely available 'Nee/Nee' or 'Nee/Ja' sticker on their letterbox. After cheese, liquorice, William of Orange and total football it seemed to make sense to try to introduce the stickers in the UK.
At the time the campaign was supported by the local Green Party and aptly named 'Think Green'. The Norwich Greens have a reputation for going out door-knocking day in day out (they're more hard core than me!) and the stickers quickly found their way to many a local letterbox. When Think Green was dying a slow death in 2006 I set up this website.
In late 2006 / early 2007 there was suprisingly little information about stopping unwanted junk mail available. The usual advice was to sign up to the Mailing Preference Service. As the Guide to Stamping Out Junk Mail explains, stopping junk mail is not that easy…
Stop Junk Mail has never been 'just' about providing information. Unavoidably, it's a campaign as well. Reducing junk mail could be a lot easier than it is at the moment, if only the 'direct mail' industry and/or politicians would be willing to give people easy and effective ways of taking control over what comes through the letterbox. This isn't happening at the moment. Within the industry there's plenty of talk about better targeting of junk mail (so that you only receive advertisements you're interested in) but making it easier for you to actual stop junk mail isn't on the agenda. It is on mine, and I've listed various ideas for making it easier for people to reduce unsolicited mail in the Manifesto.
Success and failures
For a project that's run in my spare time (sadly I do have to earn a living) I guess Stop Junk Mail has done alright. Over the years I've given (hopefully) useful information to many thousands of people and thanks to this website the 'direct marketing' industry no longer has a monopoly over what the general public is and isn't told about reducing unwanted mail. Back in 2007 the main source for information about stopping junk mail was a website run by the Direct Marketing Association, called MyDM (that's right – they wanted people to think about junk mail in terms of my direct marketing). Opt-out schemes are no longer being kept secret (until a couple of years ago nobody knew it's possible to cancel paper directories) and information about opt-out services has improved (you can now even find information about reducing junk mail on the Royal Mail website!). And, it was me who set up the first one-point-stop for opting out of junk mail and paper directories: Junk Buster – an example which the junk mail industry still refuses to follow.
The list of failures is much longer. I've lost count of the number of great ideas I've had; some projects were never even started, others never finished. Hopefully, though, the campaign will soon get the boost it needs…