Three local brothers—Sander DeVries, Tim Pfannes and Shane Pfannes—have turned their distaste for junk mail into a growing business. 41pounds.org, so named for the weight of the average amount of junk mail the average adult receives per year, offers customers a one-stop shop to stop each and every piece of junk mail and unwanted catalog from arriving in their mail box for five years—for just $41 per household.
DevRies explains that the business arose from their determination to shrink their own pile of unwanted mail growing on the dining room table. "We decided to so some research to see what we could do to stop this." It took some time and some digging, but their persistence worked.
They shared the information they gathered—who to call, mail and email to get off of every junk mailing list—with family and friends. Although people were interested in the concept, it was just too much work for the average person to tackle. DeVries remembers, "They all said, 'This is really cool.' But no one went through and did it."
Thus, in July 2006, 41pounds.org was born. Their task is to contact the junk mailers—an average of 20-25 of them—to remove their customers from their mailing lists. They will also tackle additional catalogs if asked.
The 2,000 people who are signed up have already made an impact, DeVries points out. "That's over 2,400 trees saved, 1.4 million gallons of water saved and 920,000 pounds of carbon dioxide not released into the atmosphere."
41pounds.org is a national service: "We have tested the list at different houses in different areas," states DeVries, and they are finding that California residents are utilizing the service in high numbers. The brothers plan to launch a marketing campaign in late April to coincide with Earth Day, and hope to recruit more Michigan residents to the service at that time.
41pounds.org also offers a unique fund-raising opportunity for non-profit organizations and schools: they get to keep $15 of the $41 fee for any new customer they recruit to the service. "People are sick of candy bars and wrapping paper fund-raisers. And it's easy. You just have to get people to sign up on a website and you're raising money," explains DeVries.
Local organizations already on-board include Judson Center, Roeper Schools and Bloomfield Hills Optimist Club.
The brothers also run a computer network maintenance company. DeVries says, "That was our main company and this was a side project, but it has turned into such a huge project." 41pounds.org is currently Ferndale-based and, despite its national appeal, he says the brothers have no plans to relocate. "We're gonna be here forever."
Source: Sander DeVries, 41pounds.org
Writer Kelli B. Kavanaugh