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Seattle Passes ‘Do Not Mail’ Non-binding Resolution

January 25, 2010
SEATTLE—January 25th, 2010—Today, the Seattle City Council passed a resolution calling on the state of Washington to create a Do Not Mail Registry giving its citizens the choice to stop receiving unwanted junk mail.

Introduced by City Council President Richard Conlin, the Council approved the resolution by an 8-1 vote.

The non-binding resolution follows a similar resolution passed in San Francisco and suggests that American lawmakers are becoming more assertive in representing Americans on consumer and environmental issues. According to a 2007 Zogby poll, 89% of Americans support the creation of a Do Not Mail Registry.

"Seattle once again finds itself at the forefront of efforts to apply common sense to the concerns of ordinary citizens in the 21st Century," said ForestEthics Executive Director Todd Paglia. "Americans seem to agree on less and less, but almost all of us want to stop junk mail. With this vote, Seattle is standing up for its citizens, for environmental protection, and for forests."

The resolution contains a provision directing the Seattle Public Utility to evaluate all existing junk mail opt-out services so that the city can promote the most effective one. The SPU's findings will be reported by June 30, 2010, and will help consumers nationwide make sense of an increasingly crowded-and not always well-intentioned-junk mail "reduction" scene.

A Do Not Mail Registry, similar to the 2003 Do Not Call Registry that gave citizens the choice not to receive telemarketing calls, would allow citizens to opt out of commercial junk mail. Though the direct mail industry has opposed similar legislation in the past by characterizing Do Not Mail as a "ban" on junk mail, a registry would allow Americans to continue to receive direct mail if they so choose.

Bills calling for Do Not Mail registries have been defeated in more than 20 states due to pressure from the junk mail industry and the US Postal Service.

Every year 100 million trees are logged to produce the 100 billion pieces of junk mail Americans receive. Junk mail's production generates the carbon emissions of more than 9 million cars. U.S. junk mail accounts for 30% of all the mail delivered in the world, though 44% of it goes to landfills unopened.

In an interview given Sunday to Seattle NPR affiliate KPLU, Conlin discussed the cost benefits of the resolution: "From the city's perspective, it becomes garbage that we have to dispose of, and we have to pay for disposing of it. And even if it's recycled, recycling still isn't as good as not having it in the waste stream at all."
 

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