Over the Hill

Money spent by charities on gummed address labels is a waste

Phil Dirkx
Phil Dirkx

Does your mail frequently include envelopes containing sheets of gummed mailing labels printed with your return address? They’re always accompanied by letters asking for donations. I think I get three or four every week, sometimes two in one day.

Of course, I also get many other donation solicitations without sheets of gummed labels. I assume that almost all donation requests, with or without gummed labels, are for worthy causes, but they can be annoying.

For all I know, the solicitors may only mail their sheets of gummed labels to old geezers like me. To younger people they probably send e-mail or text messages.

I guess charities send those gummed labels to me with my name and address on them to gain my goodwill, to butter me up in other words.

But they do the opposite. They annoy me. I already have more than enough labels to last a lifetime. So what can I do with these surplus labels that keep pouring in?

Throw them away, you may say, but weren’t we warned years ago to destroy any waste paper bearing our names and addresses? Of course, that warning may now be obsolete. Can’t all our personal information now be learned on the Internet?

But I still don’t want kids finding sheets of these labels and sticking my name and address on lampposts, fences and restroom walls. So, you may suggest, just run them through my shredder. But my shredder’s instructions said, “Don’t shred gummed labels.”

Nonetheless I do shred them, but I take the precaution of sandwiching each sheet of labels between two sheets of paper. That’s a nuisance, and some gummed pieces still do stick to the shredder blades.

Every time I get donation requests that include gummed labels, I get strong negative feelings toward that charity, hospital or whatever sender.

I also can’t understand why they still send mailing labels in this electronic age. The Postal Service lost $5 billion last year. Paper first-class mail is rapidly being dragged offstage. So what can we do with these unwanted, unwelcome gummed address labels?

Here’s what I do. I shun them. I now print or write my return address by hand in the upper left-hand corner of each envelope. At one time almost everybody did that with no complaining. That was before gummed labels became a snail-mail solicitation gimmick.

Hand writing or printing is more personal. Let’s make it fashionable. Let’s start a movement. Let’s send a message to the donation-solicitation industry: “Your gummed labels are an unwelcome nuisance. Spend your gummed-label money on your cause.”