Some residents of Evanston’s 8th Ward have told their alderman they’re annoyed by the advertising circulars the Chicago Tribune dumps on their lawn and think the city should find a way to ban them.

Such ad circulars have drawn complaints in communities ranging from Atlanta, where a community group formed to stop the Atlanta Journal-Consitution’s circulars, to Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

In Philadelphia the city has adopted an ordinance that lets residents request a city prepared “circular non-delivery” decal for their door. And the ordinance authorizes city inspectors to ticket distributors who ignore the decals.

Bridgeton, N.J. has an ordinance that requires distributors to respect notices placed by homeowners barring circulars as does New York City, while an ordinance in Ridgefield Park, N.J., bars distribution of circulars to residents who haven’t opted in to receiving them.

Sample wording provided by city officials for a ‘no lawn litter’ sign in New York City.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, told the residents she’s asked the city’s law department to explore what can be done about the advertising circulars, but says she expects that First Amendment free speech rules will limit the actions the city can take.

The Tribune’s circulars are produced by Red Plum, a division of the publicly-traded Valassis Communications Inc., which has over 7,000 employees worldwide. The plastic wrapper for the circulars includes a phone number, 800-874-2863, which it says can be used for “delivery inquiries.”

Should Evanston restrict distribution of advertising circulars?

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. I lived in the 8th Ward

    I lived in the 8th Ward for 7 years and can attest to this being a real problem in that area. The issue is worse around multi-unit buildings where a pile of these things would just be dumped in the parkway every week. I see that Ald. Rainey is concerned about 1st amendment protection.. this seems like a real stretch. Why is this not considered littering? If someone has not requested that these things be delivered (i.e. the daily newspaper) then what makes these things different than someone that dumps a bag of food trash in the parkway? (This is also a common occurrence in the 8th Ward) Issue littering citations to everyone in these cases and that should take care of it.

  2. It does work to contact the Tribune

    I brought this matter to the attention of the Chicago Tribune and my 2nd Ward Alderman Peter Braithwaite last year and we were very sucessful in getting the Tribune to stop dumping these in our neighborhoods.

    A ban would likely be unconstitutional and would impact all publications. I find that the distributors for the Evanston Roundtable do a pretty good job of getting them on our steps/porch and delivering only one per household and I want to keep getting this free-circulation paper. (The TribLocal or TribValues may be mostly ads, but I'm sure they could disagree it's only ads, especially about the TribLocal version.) The Tribune distributors seem to place multiple copies (ofter with multiple copies in the wrapper) right along the curb or in the street, where it quickly becomes wasteful trash and blocks sewers. Since few want these, people leave them where they were dropped, and theat's a large part of the problem.

    The Trib Customer Service Rep (Autumn Smith, Client Services,, (312) 222-2251) told us in July 2011:

    • We do have a website that contains information on how to stop delivery of Local Values to your home. That website can be found here:
    • I’m glad delivery has finally stopped on your block. I have passed the information about Local Values being delivered in other parts of your neighborhood to our Regional Delivery Manager, and he will address this with the delivery agent. Hopefully this will then stop unwanted delivery to the Evanston area.


  3. Logic to the ads

    I frankly would like to get the ads.

    I live in a set of connected [facing] building and they deliever them only to the one building where no one picks them up—or even their own mail.  I don't know how they decide what buidings to deliever them to.

    I don't know if homes/apartments pick-up their mailings but I see many of the mailings in the streets of Simpson west of Sherman and Foster east of Ridge.  While these are areas with NU students, I doubt the students put them in the street.  Now that I think about it the ones in the gutters are also in the areas where pop/beer cans are also in the gutters such as Orrington around Crain—i.e. expensive homes where they seem to assume 'someone else' will clean up their property and adjacent areas.

  4. Those ad papers are organized littering

    It isn't just the 8th ward where those pink plastic wrapped papers are a nuisance. I find them all along Central Street. Because they are wrapped in plastic, rain will not deteriorate them and they sit for weeks if not months before someone (often me) picks them up and dumps them. Inside lobbies of condo buildings they can collect as well.

    As for freedom of speech, suppose someone stood on the parkway in front of your place and every time you walked out of your house they repeated the same advertising phrases to you claiming freedom of speech? This would go on weekly without end, year after year and to top it off they would leave a plastic wrapper on the ground every time they addressed you. How long do you think that would go on?

  5. Ad circulars

    2nd Ward reporting in here: We have the same problem with this Chicago Tribune piece.I called the 800 number to request that they stop delivering these to my house.

    Over several months I had to keep on calling, but after about 6-8 calls, perhaps equating to change of delivery personnel on our block, I am now spared.

    Many houses are far enough back from the street that it is senseless to think about a sign on a front door as a deterrent–that is NOT the remedy. Tongue in cheek observation: One good thing about the way these things languish unwanted for weeks in parkways is that if you're walking your dog and unexpectedly need 1 more bag for cleaning up after it, you can generally find one of those bags for this purpose!!

  6. I found a way to stop the ads

    I was very frustrated with the ads, calling the Tribune repeatedly, even threatening to cancel my subscription. I did cancel and still got them, so I decided to contact Skokie (the municipality where I live) and they were immediately able to give me a contact at the Tribune who was able to stop the unwanted circulars. This is his information:  Ronald Buss at  Simply let him know you don't want the circulars anymore and he takes care of it. Haven't had anything on my driveway since late summer. Thank you, Tribune and Mr. Buss.

  7. Ad papers/flyers

    This issue came up last year when the Council was trying to ban plastic bags. Comments were made that most of the  bags and papers you see blowing in the wind were these. It was ignored by the Council

  8. a solution to the ad paper litter
    Since there are some people who want the free ad-papers and many people who don’t, I thought it might be possible to please everyone with a requirement that papers that are not picked up must be recovered by the same company that places them.

    A date stamp on the plastic bags would work, or the paper positioned so that the date shows through the bag. In this way, the responsibility would lie with the party that is causing the problem.

    This could apply to anything placed on the parkway – that it be dated for pickup with a fine for leaving it beyond a certain period (1 week?). Free speech yes, dumping things and leaving them for the city or the public to pick up, no.

  9. Editorial telephone game on Alderman quote
    Regarding advertising litter: This is what Ann Rainey posted on the 8th Ward board:

    “I have asked legal dept for info on our ability to control
    distribution. I suspect we will hear how the constitution is in
    play here.”

    Maybe it’s just me, but it’s an excessive jump from that to:

    ” [Alderman Rainey] … says she expects that First Amendment free speech rules will limit the actions the city can take.”

    Your version has Alderman Rainey passively acceding to the legal masters of the Evanston universe; what she actually said challenges those masters with having a limited perspective, which we citizens must place in context and work with (or around as appropriate).

    This is me, trying to be that kind of citizen with respect to sloppy writing masquerading as responsible journalism.

  10. Ad papers/flyers/Misc Trash

    They also need to ticket home owners for not picking up the garbage that get thrown in the streets and sidewalks. Such as coffee cups,fast food bags sextions of newspapers they didn't want to read. Lets expand this to the business areas and have stores pick up the trash on sidewalks.

  11. Triblocalvalues promises to cancel delivery

    I emailed this morning at 7:16 am and received a reply 40 minutes later:

    "Thank you for contacting the Chicago Tribune regarding the unwanted delivery of Local Values.  The delivery manager in your area has been notified to stop the delivery.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

    Donna LeBlanc
    Client Services"

  12. Penny saved penny earned

    Seems to me this is a non-issue.   I am not charged a tonnage fee for recycling pick up.   If I get this circular, or another free piece of advertising hung on my door, or a free weekly or monthly newspaper delivered on my stoop or walkway, I have a choice.   I can read the offer, I can not read the offer and I can recycle it.  Why we as citizens need governmental regulation is a waste.   There are more important issues.

    1. No need to add to recycling burden and invite criminals
      Yes, this unwanted trash can be recycled. But someone must go retrieve it (or retrieve them with multiples) as frequently, those doing the delivering don’t pay much attention to where they toss/leave these circulars or to how many they are leaving in any one location. Those that are not retrieved are a big part of the problem. Also, why add to the resources spent on recycling? It costs money to recycle what we can stop before its printed.

      Consider this — when I’m on vacation, I don’t want menus and home repair adverts rubberbanded to my front stair railings. That trash left on my doorstep is in view of the street. That trash piling up is like a big flashing red light — hey crooks, look here, nobody’s home to pick up the trash on the front steps. I’m tired of asking my neighbors to clear my steps every day while I’m gone.

      A simple sign works for me. It will cost the city almost nothing to post a sign on its website that can be printed for those who wish to post “No Unsolicited Advertisements Here” with wording like the signs already in use in New York City.

      If you don’t mind these circulars and other adverts (like menus, home repair and cleaning services), don’t do anything and you’ll keep getting them. But with a simple sign, I will enjoy my vacation time much more not giving a moments thought to the trash piling up on my steps and tied to my front step railings.

      1. Doorhangers

        Agree wholeheartedly to the inviting criminals aspect of this problem.  We stop our newspaper delivery, mail and don't order anything to be delivered while we're out of town, but the doorhanger and other ads pile up – arrrgh !!!

  13. Trash

    Once a month or so,I walk my block and pick up all the trash in my neighbors and my own yard. Probabaly a third of it is these stupid fliers, in bushes, soaking wet in yards and littered in a million other places. (First Amendment free speech rules will limit the actions the city can take.) What about littering!!!! Start fining them, if I went and threw trash in someone elses yard I wouldn't be protected by freedom of speech.

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