I am inundated with unwanted mail, including local publications.

For example, The Montecito Messenger began sending me its newspaper, which I never requested. Not wanting to receive it at my home, I called its offices and asked that it not be sent to me. Still, it keeps coming. I tried the same thing some time ago with Casa Magazine and other local publications, all to no avail. How many times must we call these publications to be removed from unwanted mailings?

Perhaps 90 percent of the publications sent our way end up being tossed without being read (hopefully into the recycling bin). In our society, we have an epidemic of unwanted mail. It uses a lot of energy to produce, transport and recycle all this mail. Also, the destruction of trees and the use of toxic ink are byproducts of mail. Massive clear-cuts harm our national forests, destroying critical wildlife habitat in order to create wood and paper products. An alternative to this wastefulness is to use postconsumer recycled paper and soy ink, but of course, that’s more expensive.

It costs a lot of money to create all this stuff. The cost of producing it as well as mailing it ends up being passed down to all of us — the advertisers pay for the “free publications” and we end up paying more to buy their products or services.

How much does it cost to send the Montecito Messenger to all Montecito residents, as that newspaper proudly proclaims it does? I find these local publications interesting, and may read them from time to time, but they are readily available in front of stores, so why do they need to be delivered to everyone?

Years ago, I had a similar problem with unwanted phone calls from telemarketers. The government came to the rescue and created a “no call” list. I signed up, and the calls ceased.

Perhaps Supervisor Salud Carbajal would be willing to create a local “no unwanted mail” list that residents could sign to stop unwanted advertisements and publications from being mailed to their residences. It could be tried on a voluntary basis, and if that doesn’t work, or if businesses ignore our requests to not receive this mail, it could become involuntary with penalties, as is the case with the “no call” list. Obviously, the first amendment would not allow prohibition of unwanted mail for nonprofit organizations or political purposes, but the majority of unwanted mail is advertising. Merchants could still put their advertisements in stands in front of local stores, or send them to customers who don’t sign the “no unwanted mail” list.

Anyone who does not want to receive the Montecito Messenger can call (805) 564-6001 and try to cancel it. Also, Casa Magazine can be reached at (805) 965-6448.

If Supervisor Carbajal hears from enough people, he may want to create a “no unwanted mail” list. I’m sure local environmental organizations would love to help him. Those interested can call his office or their own supervisor at (805) 568-2190.

Bryan Rosen is an environmental studies major.