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No ads, please – increasing numbers refuse junk mail

More than 600,000 Finnish households are now saying no to freesheets and advertisements. The number is actually on the rise, even as the direct advertising industry is booming.

Nuori nainen jakaa mainoksia rappukäytävässä.
People are least interested in receiving ads during the summer. Image: Yle

Catalogues, advertisements, free newspapers, fast food offers… Finland’s letterboxes are full of these and other types of printed spam which end up as waste – or which don’t make it in through the front door at all. Tens of thousands of new households attach ”no ads” signs on their doors and mailboxes every year.

”There are definitely more of them these days,” says Matti Tapaninen, a mailman of 40 years’ standing. ”People get fed up with hauling out bagfuls of paper waste every week.”

Especially young men living alone in apartment buildings prefer to skip the junk mail rounds entirely.

Ad business in upsurge

The number of ads themselves has been on the rise for years. Sanna Laurila of the Finnish postal company Itella says the increase is partly to blame for the proliferation of free paper refusals.

”We did a study on the phenomenon that showed the most common reasons for refusing free distribution papers were the high volume of advertisements and the inconvenience of recycling unwanted paper waste,” Laurila describes.

According to the information gathered by Itella in early June, some 600,000 Finnish households had refused unaddressed advertising; the amount increases each year by 1-2 percent, i.e. about 50,000 households.

The Janton concern specialises in direct mail advertisement. Development Manager Jani Kaski doesn’t consider the rise in refusal signs a threat to the business.

”Unaddressed distribution as a whole has developed radically,” Kaski says. ”The CRA, the Finnish communications authority, says that the two-billion-unit limit was broken last year, which is quite a figure. I believe that a slump in magazine and newspaper subscriptions has something to do with the situation.”

The number of free distribution refusal signs also depends on the season: more signs appear in the summertime when people spend vacations away from home and don’t want to come back to a mountain of garbage.

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