Stop Junk Mail

Grade Levels: 3 - 5

Protecting our earth and its resources is something with which your students can help. Here are some activities to help you make Earth Day meaningful.

Explain the Problem.

Junk mail is often thrown out without being read or used in any way. This mountain of paper is sent to landfills where it sits for years before decomposing. One family can receive 25 to 30 pieces of junk mail a week!

Do the Math.

  • Show the children the extent of the problem by writing "25 pieces" on the board.
  • A town with only 9,000 citizens has about 3,000 households.

  • Write "3,000 families" on the board.

  • Multiply 25 (pieces) times 3,000 (families) and show the result of 75,000 pieces of junk mail for a small town each week.

Get a Sense of the Problem.

  • Invite children to bring their families' junk mail for one week (we have a parent letter you can print and send home).

  • At the end of the week, spread the collected junk mail on a table or on the floor.

  • Open any still-sealed envelopes.

  • Remove and separate the contents into piles (i.e., envelopes, cards, sheets).

  • This should give children a firm grasp of the extent of the junk-mail problem in landfills.

Separate the Trash.

  • Place the recyclable paper (non-glossy) in a box for recycling.

  • Dispose of the non-recyclable materials.

Do Something About It!

Part I

  • To stop most junk mail from arriving at their homes, students and their parents can visit the Direct Marketing Association Website, at There is no charge for this service.

    Or, let students know that their parents can write to the Direct Marketing Association. There is a registration form on the DMA Website. This only costs one dollar.

Part II

  • Additionally, students can write to individual companies.

  • Distribute three to five copies of the notice below to each student.

  • Explain that this can be enclosed in the return envelopes that usually come with junk mail to ask companies to stop sending unwanted and wasteful paper to the students' homes.


Family Name___________________________





To whom it may concern:
In an effort to reduce our disposable waste products, our family requests that you remove our name from your mailing list.
Thank you.



Excerpted from Themes Across the Curriculum.

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