‘Tis the Season…for catalogs!

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It’s that time of year again…the leaves have fallen, menus are laden with pumpkin spice, and the holiday catalogs are en route! Yes, countless catalogs, many of which you have never ordered from, or quite possibly have never even heard of, are about to hit your mailbox! If you ever tried to double up on a new “first time customer” coupon by signing you and your significant other/roommate up for the same brand, you may even receive two of the same catalog! This is literally one of my biggest pet peeves. 

The problem is, when you buy online many sites force you to start an account and even if you don’t sign up to receive email promotions, they can still physically send you mail using your shipping address. This infuriates me so much. If I am selecting to not receive email promotions, I think it’s safe to assume I don’t want a physical mailer. I don’t have any stats or facts on how much waste is produced from the production of all these catalogs, because while I’m sure I can dig up something, do you really need more proof than your recycling bin? 

So I offer a suggestion today that will help cut down on the massive piles of catalogs, and, if we all make a habit of it, maybe start a trend that will eventually result in companies eliminating hard catalogs altogether: Collect your catalogs, reserve an hour at some point in your week, call the numbers on the back, and unsubscribe from the physical mailer. Make sure you put your favorite show on while you call, cause 80% of your hour of calls will be spent on hold. This is what makes the process bearable; just do it when you’re bored and binge-watching.

The satisfaction you will get from the customer service rep’s confusion will make it all worth it. The more “out there” actions I take towards a more sustainable life, the more I thrive off people thinking I’m weird. Don’t get me wrong, I very much look forward to the day that these actions are the norm, but until then I will let the odd looks and off-handed comments serve as motivation. If my actions elicit that reaction, maybe that person will actually think about it again and that means there is a slim chance that maybe they’ll consider making better choices themselves.

Often the customer service rep will mention that it may take up to 3 months for the last catalog to hit, but once you start receiving less, it’ll be a noticeable difference. The only thing I can’t seem to eliminate are the random credit card mailers. If you have any suggestions on how to stop these, please share in the comments! 

One final tip—many major cities offer an option of opting out of junk mail. For instance, we were able to sign up at Phila.gov and receive a decal that we place on our door that marks our door as a “Circular Free Property.” For NYC residents, www1.nyc.gov also allows you to opt out of junk mail. Boston, visit mass.gov. It doesn’t stop all the junk but it DEFINITELY cuts down on the restaurant flyers, etc. 

Here’s one stat I could find, from  www1.nyc.gov: “New Yorkers get more than 2 billion pieces of unwanted mail a year.” I mean, come on. 

So, whether your motivation is sustainability-based or you simply want to receive less junk mail, follow the above tips and you will inevitably benefit from the results. 

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