British Columbia

Website promotes red dots to stop junk mail

A Vancouver businesswoman is launching a new campaign to help people who want to cut down on junk mail delivered by Canada Post.

Little-known Canada Post policy has existed for more than 10 years

A Vancouver businesswoman is launching a new campaign to help people who want to cut down on junk mail.

The Red Dot Campaign aims to draw attention to a little-known Canada Post policy that allows people to stop unaddressed junk mail arriving in their mailbox or dropping through their mail slot.

Beth Ringdahl was once a mainstream marketer but has now gone green. She says companies use massive amounts of paper on flyers that many Canadians never read.

That's why she's now spending $3,500 of her own marketing company's money to launch the Red Dot website to help others stop junk mail.

"A red dot is what Canada Post uses to officially mark houses who have opted out," Ringdahl told CBC News on Wednesday.

All it takes is a letter and a red dot

Opting out of junk mail from Canada Post is actually a two-stage process, according to the Red Dot website.

First, residents need to write a letter to Canada Post indicating they no longer wish to receive unaddressed mail at their home. A downloadable version of the letter is available on the Red Dot Campaign website.

Then Canada Post will place a red dot on their mailbox or mail slot, according to Ringdahl, to remind the letter carrier they have opted out.

"It's just a way to say if you're not going to take the time to ever read your junk mail, why would you just accept that, day after day, you have that litter to come home to?" said Ringdahl.

Despite the fact that Canada Post has offered the opt-out program for more than 10 years, the corporation says only two per cent of Canadians use it.

Studies show most people actually want to receive the unaddressed mail, Canada Post spokeswoman Lillian Au told CBC News.

"From our studies, 98 per cent of people want to receive unaddressed ad mail because we are delivering important information — government information, information about their community," said Au.

"You can't selectively say I don't want this. It's all or nothing," said Au.

But according to Ringdahl, that's not true.

'Simple action'

Even if residents stop the delivery of unaddressed mail, Canada Post will still deliver some unaddressed items, such as community newspapers and letters from the House of Commons, provincial and municipal electoral offices and Elections Canada, her website says.

The actual reason so few people stop delivery is because it's almost impossible to find the opt-out instructions on Canada Post's website, said Ringdahl, and that's why she set up her own.

"I think it's just giving people a simple action they can take. I know I'm having fun doing this.… We can make a difference if we work together and see how we can run our businesses better," she said.

"By opting out, we are hoping to urge advertisers to adopt more eco-friendly advertising strategies," said Ringdahl.