News & Politics

Make Your Life Easier: Trash Junk Mail

Does your mail pile up? Here's how to sort through it all.

"We get more mail in a year than our grandparents got in their lifetime," says Ellen Epstein, a Maryland-based professional organizer and owner of Concierge America. "People are drowning in paper."

Credit-card offers. Charity appeals. Coupons. Catalogs. It piles up. Here's how to stop some of that junk mail and to deal with what's in your mailbox.

* Call 212-768-7277 or go to to put your name on the Direct Marketing Association's do-not-mail list. Within three months, you should see junk mail taper off. But you'll still get mail from companies you do business with, and from local merchants, political candidates, and professional and alumni associations. And it won't stop mail addressed to "occupant" or "resident."

* If you really want to be vigilant, contact catalogs you order from and magazines you subscribe to and ask that they not sell your name and address.

* When mail comes in, "Sort it right away," says Helen Montfort, a professional organizer and owner of Creative Order in Bethesda. "Put bills in one pile, magazines in another pile, catalogs in a pile." After sorting, put the magazines near your favorite reading chair, the catalogs in another logical spot, and throw away the junk that's left.

* Don't open junk mail. "If it says '0% interest' on the outside, you know it's junk," Epstein says. "I can't believe how many people read junk mail. Men are worse at this."

Editor in chief

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.