I’ve grown increasingly sick of receiving catalogs in the mail.
It’s not that I don’t admire the amazing products being made out there and how cleverly (if not insidiously) they are sold in glossy, lovely catalogs.
Between the great photography and high quality materials, some of the clothes, tools, decor, plants and foods available by mail order are definitely desirable.
That so much of it is manufactured in China rubs me the wrong way, but that’s another story.
Shiny new things
But in spite of my only-too-human tendency to drool over the latest fashions and mentally spend five grand that I don’t even have every time the latest Garnet Hill catalog arrives, I finally decided to get serious about calling catalog companies to be taken off of their mailing lists.
I advise you to do the same. The sheer quantity of catalogs sent into every home in America on a daily basis is staggering, and ultimately, wasteful. And this is the kind of waste we can do something about.
It takes vigilance
Unfortunately the onus falls on the consumer to get off of the seller’s catalog list.
Even if you haven’t bought from a particular catalog in ages, it’s unlikely any catalog retailer will delete you from their mailing list anytime soon. In today’s sales climate? No way. They’ve got to make every contact possible in the hopes of making those sales.
For me the biggest impediment to action was setting side the time and just committing to calling one catalog company after another to politely request that I receive no more catalogs. I always had better things to do, it seemed.
Once I did commit, I found it took only about an hour to get off of about 30 catalog lists.
Step lightly on Mother Earth
Don’t fear, the folks on the other end are almost always polite. Some ask why you’ve chosen to be removed. I always say it’s for environmental reasons, even if an equal truth is that their product sucks and their catalog is ugly.
But if you don’t want to spend a month collecting catalogs and a weekend afternoon calling everyone to beg off you can take the incremental approach and simply dial when you’re already sitting down with your mail each day. I sometimes do that, picking off one or two catalogs a day.
One firm, catalogchoice.org offers a way to get off multiple catalogs online, but they also ask for a donation to get “unlisted” at the level of the National Do Not Call Registry. Which begs the question of why there is no federal “do not send” registry?
Waste not, want not
Remember that you can always be on a mail order company’s e-mail list, even if you use a spam account for that. Sadly, they do tend to send too many e-mails and that always makes me want to get off of the online ones, too.
Some companies, like Pashley Cycles, offers a catalog on PDF download. I prefer that. A little electricity is negligible compared to the energy in the creation and shipping of a catalog.
Purging print catalogs from our lives does more than help our habitat while decreasing CO2 emissions. It’s also a de-cluttering of the mind. It’s an act of resistance that pushes back against the insinuation of consumerism right into our homes.
Simply by drooling a little less over the myriad goods out there we challenge the paradigm of manufactured need and the sense of inadequacy it’s messages compel.
That’s the kind of freedom I dig.
–Lindsay Curren, Lindsay’s List