March 26, 2008

Going Green -- Latest Baby Step

Here's another easy step I came up with to become greener, with a couple of side benefits. If you're like me, you get inundated with catalogs and junk mail. This includes catalogs from brick and mortar stores such as Pottery Barn and online businesses such as The Company Store, junk mail coupons such as the Monthly Mailer, papers such as the PennySaver containing classified ads, and credit card offers from various banks and airlines. Especially before Christmas, but at all other times as well, these catalogs and materials quickly stuff my small mailbox. If I'm out of town or simply don't check my mailbox for a few days, it's sometimes so full that I have trouble removing the contents. If you're even more like me, you find most of these materials useless, and toss them out at the first chance you get.

So what I did a month or two ago was, every time I received a catalog or junk mail, I tore off the page containing my address and the company information, and threw the rest of the item out (in the recycle bin, of course). I then entered the company web site that was written on each catalog and most of the pieces of junk mail (if the junk mail had no web site, I merely looked up the company involved and found its web site), and navigated to the "Contact Us" or "Customer Service" link. In just about every case, this took me to a simple online response form where I could enter my name and address, as well as a box where I could ask a question or make a comment or request. I filled out the form, and asked to be taken off the company's mailing list for catalogs and other promotional materials. If my catalogs had a customer i.d. number, I included this in my communication.

Requesting to be removed from these companies' mailing lists was an easy process that only took about two minutes per company. In nearly every case, I received a response within two days or less, stating that my request would be honored, and that it may take a few catalog cycles for me to be removed. In the very few cases where there was no web site, I simply called the telephone number listed on the piece of mail, and made the same request by phone.

Now, a month or two later. I am seeing the results. The amount of catalogs and junk mail coming into my mailbox is drastically reduced. I feel like I have made another small contribution to saving the planet and some trees. The added benefits are (1) I have reduced annoying mailbox clutter; and (2) I have removed tempting spending opportunities from in front of my face. I am also expecting some thanks from my mail carrier for saving her back.

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At 2:10 PM, Blogger globalchameleon said...

great image! you could add a step to your (already helpful) tips and suggest: "make an art installation out of all of those useless and redundant catalogues" (I'm seeing a Harry & David entry in the Whitney Biennial)

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

This is definitely a mailbox tipping point -- or rather a reason for the mailbox not to tip! I'm going to do this immediately because we too are inundated with similar mailings that have to cost a lot to print and distribute. But more importantly perhaps we can save a tree or two over our lifetime and free up our time getting rid of all this stuff.

At 6:07 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

I used to have a mask made of junk mail. I could actually read the fine print for once when it was on.

At 4:00 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

MC -- I just tried this with Restoration Hardware and LLBean and had a positive response confirming my request within a few minutes. That's really encouraging because they both send a lot of big thick glossy catalogs. While I was at it, I requested no more e-mail messages as well.

At 4:05 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

Great news! I think those are two of the companies I contacted. I must have written to at least 25 companies in all.


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