It’s not exactly pushing the envelope.
They won’t have the power stop the credit card applications or the pizza coupons from coming, but Spokane County commissioners could, at least, have their say in the subject.
That, basically, is what Donna McKereghan, an advocate for a nationwide “Do Not Mail” registry, asked of commissioners on Tuesday morning.
McKereghan is hoping the commissioners will pass a resolution demanding state legislators to create the first statewide registry similar to the “Do Not Call” list that curtails telemarketing. Only in this case, McKereghan is hoping to stop unsolicited and unwanted third-class “mailings from ever reaching their intended – but unwelcoming – targets.
“It’s more a matter of choice,” McKereghan said. “I’m tired of getting this stuff. I don’t need four CitiBank cards.”
There’s also the environmental side of the equation, McKereghan explained, saying it was about saving trees, removing the cost of production, saving gasoline for transportation and the heavy burden on waste disposal that unwanted junk mail creates. She said that 100 million trees are destroyed for 105 billion pieces of direct mail created each year, and 45 percent of junk mail is never even opened.
Of course, one person’s garbage is another’s bread and butter. When the Seattle City Council voted 8-1 last January to support a similar resolution, the council heard for over an hour from those who said they rely on direct mail to target advertising to people who live near their businesses. Labor leaders complained that postal carrier jobs could be lost. And printing-company representatives said that any restrictions on third-class mail could mean even more problems for their already struggling businesses.
Seattle’s resolution didn’t actually do anything, as the Legislature isn’t considering a “do not mail” bill this session. There also isn’t a similar piece of legislation being considered at the national level, and no state has started its own registry list.
Commissioner Todd Mielke asked why a national registry is even necessary when there are similar options already available via the Postal Service. For example, Catalog Choice can virtually stop all unsolicited catalogs.
“There are currently programs in existence,” he said. “If I’ve done it, why can’t others do it?”
McKreghan said they can, however many don’t know those programs exist.
“Centralization is more efficient,” she said.
Commissioner Bonnie Mager said she was in support of the idea, but Commissioner Mark Richard said he would need to study the matter longer. He added that he is dubious that any registry can totally remove unwanted phone calls or mail.
“My repeated attempts to get on the ‘do not call’ list don’t seem to have worked,” he said.