A simple trek to the mailbox is often not so simple. Some days it seems you need a wheelbarrow to keep up with all the junk mail.

One of my frivolous fantasies is to collect all my junk mail for a month, shove it in a big package filled with dog doo and then mail it back to the folks who sent it to me in the first place.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

I’ve yet to follow through.

Instead I do what I normally do, and sort out the 8 percent valid mail from the 92 percent junk. I then heap the junk mail into the makeshift recycling pile on the side of my fridge until it falls over and scares my dogs.

You’d think with all the hoopla about saving the environment some type of regulation, law or ban on junk mail would have already been passed.

Four of the biggest offenders are:

• Tucson Shopper. This little newspaper-like item gets merrily stuffed in my mailbox about once a week or so. It contains ads for businesses I’ll never need and coupons for items I’ll never want.

At least it’s printed on newsprint, an ideal medium to wash the mirrors and windows.

• Those coupons that come stuffed in an envelope. Unless you were chomping at the bit for personalized Mickey Mouse checks, a five-room steam carpet cleaning or a set of cheesy dishcloths, the coupons are rarely worth saving.

• Catalogs. Catalogs. And more catalogs. These especially stink because they are printed on slick paper that doesn’t even work to wash the mirrors and windows. I will also receive doubles, triples or even quadruples of identical catalogs, just in case I missed the first one.

Some catalogs are from stores from which I’ve ordered online, while others are for old matronly clothes and orthopedic shoes. Maybe they think I live with my grandmother.

And I still don’t know how I got on Frederick’s of Hollywood’s mailing list.

• Bradford Exchange. This joint specializes in limited edition commemorative plates, girly-girl, dressed-up dolls and, as I ordered, items like a “hand-carved” tomahawk made out of plastic even though it looked like wood in the photo.

“Actual size of item larger than pictured” is one of the company’s key phrases. But the folks don’t tell you the item is much more hideous, as well.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Once you order even a single ugly item and they have your address, you will receive junk mail from them every other day encouraging you to order more ugly items. I don’t even open it any more.

The only junk mail with some redeeming qualities comes from animal organizations.

Not only is it a beneficial cause, but it usually comes with polar bear or toucan return address stickers, which you can keep even if you don’t send them money.

Half the time the stickers say “Mr. Ryn Gargulinski,” but we can always blot out the “Mr.” part with a Sharpie marker.

While I pride myself in often finding uses for even the most seemingly useless stuff, I’ve yet to find a use for junk mail.

It’s not durable enough for yard art, not fetching enough for wallpaper and not absorbent enough to line the rat cage.

The only option is to keep piling it up into that ever-growing recycling pile. Or perhaps finally following through on my fantasy and marking it “Return to Sender.”

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who wishes she had a nickel for every piece of junk mail she has ever received so she could retire and move to France. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at www.Party934.com. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com


Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Have you found a creative use for junk mail?

Which junk mail irks you the most?