Sunday, October 21, 2007

Junk Mail Diet: Lose Catalogs, Gain Time

Catalogs flow into American homes at an alarming rate. Not only do they consume a great deal of natural resources (paper, energy for manning the presses, energy to ship them, energy to deliver them, and energy to haul them away or recycle them), but most of them are simply wasted. Who could read 50-75 catalogs a week? And now that we're getting into the dreaded Holiday Season, the mailing schedule is accelerated.
Last spring I wrote about GreenDimes, one of the new green collar for-profit businesses springing up. Last week the New York Times featured a free, do-it-yourself version of catalog busting called CatalogChoice.org, cosponsored by The National Wildlife Federation, The National Resources Defense Council, and the Ecology Center. I checked out this site and it's easy to use. Just know it can take up to 10 weeks for the catalogs to dry up. And look closely at the catalog you're canceling to make sure you're spelling your name correctly, or as the case may be, incorrectly. All those bizarre misspelled versions take on a life of their own as they get sold from company to company, and each version of your name needs to be removed separately. I have already done this about ten times, and found every catalog that came into my house on their list.
And also know any time you order from a catalog, it starts the whole process over again. You need to be vigilant. They report that the catalog people complain about most is L.L. Bean, ironically. (My hunch is that they like the catalog, & just receive them way too often.) If you want to still receive catalogs from specific companies, but just not 2 a week, you can speak to customer service and instruct them as to how many you'd like; they don't want to annoy customers, so they are set up to accommodate your request.
I started cutting back on catalogs about 3 years ago by writing postcards to the worst offenders. Now I email customer service. What I appreciated most was the time it liberated. I don't have to organize them, think about them, or recycle them, since they don't come into my house in the first place. But most importantly I don't spend my time flipping through them just because they're there. Now I shop on line based on what I am specifically seeking, not driven by what some company is sticking in my face and creating a desire for; even though the glossies were uninvited, I still looked through most everyone of them. (I drew the line at the catalog for factory floor pads.)
I do admit to a guilty pleasure. Sometimes a few gorgeous, seductive catalogs sneak through the barrier and it's a special treat to page through them.... Before I email their customer service to stop them, of course.

1 comment:

Sanjiv said...

Greetings from Greendimes,

Very cool that your research is so thorough on junk mail and unwanted catalogs. Btw, saw your link to Kiva, they're awesome.