Paperkarma logo

We occasionally publish “classic” articles that we feel are still relevant to readers. This article is from the Jul/Aug 2013 issue of the Green News.

Here’s a good way to reduce paper waste and save some of your sanity: the Paperkarma app to reduce junk mail. The system is simple; just take a photo of the label on your junk mail, indicate the name that is addressed and then submit the photo to Paperkarma. Their system has a database of thousands of junk mail houses and will contact the firms to unsubscribe you from their lists. It’s that easy.

In practice, national mailers already in the database will have a quicker response than local businesses such as landscaping firms that may not yet be in the Paperkarma system. How does this work, economically? Well, the companies sending mail save a few cents a year if they find out you are not interested in their products, natural resources are conserved with less junk mail in the postal system, and you eliminate the hassle of receiving catalogs or mailers that you would never respond to.

But how does Paperkarma make money? Well,they don’t, yet. This is a start-up founded by two tech entrepreneurs, one of whom was still full-time at Microsoft when Paperkarma was developed. Perhaps in the future, they will gain some revenue from companies by enticing customers to sign up for digital coupons, but for now a year after launching, we’re benefitting from their investment in the company.

I started using Paperkarma a few weeks ago and I now look forward to sorting through my mail so I can zap the junk. Already the tour company that we enjoyed two years ago has stopped sending bi-weekly catalogs, and I look forward to getting rid of some of the random marketing materials that encourage me to buy things I didn’t know I (didn’t) need.

Paperkarma is a free app available for Apple, Android and Windows phones. Go to for more information and to download the app. Your mail carrier will thank you.

by Jack Cheng, GN Board Member