May 4, 2010

Stop Those Catalogs and Junk Mail Once and For All

The following is a reprint of a previously published post, from one year ago. I thought I'd check in on my "baby step challenges" from last year and see how they're going. This post was my mid-month report on attacking junk mail, and our junk mail has decreased dramatically in the past year. This month I'll collect all the junk mail that comes in and see if I can cut it down even more. One year later, maybe I'll finally complete this challenge.

A few weeks ago, I wrote this post about May's baby steps challenge, which is to stop those catalogs and junk mail once and for all. We get WAY too many catalogs, and even before I joined The Compact, I only ordered from a fraction of the ones we receive. I'll be working on other challenges throughout the year, like using homemade cleaning supplies, composting, and air-drying laundry, but for May I'm focused on the junk mail and catalogs.

So how am I doing so far? I've already completed the first 3 items on my to-do list for the month. I'll go through them one at a time.

1. Sign up for Catalog Choice. DONE. Finally. I should have done this years ago when I first heard about it. But better late than never. This took maybe 30 minutes. I was surprised that I had to check catalogs one at a time. There's no way to simply say "no catalogs." But I tried to check as many as I could think of that we receive. Hopefully we'll see the results of this within a few months. Incidentally, if you're afraid you'll feel remorse about no longer receiving the Pottery Barn catalog or suddenly get an urge to peruse through Harry & David's mouthwatering photos, you can always go to the site and ask to resume service from that vendor.

2. Put my name on Forest Ethic's Do Not Mail List. DONE. This was actually a petition to create a "Do Not Mail" list similar to the "Do Not Call" list. Then they sent me a thank you for signing the petition and at that point I put my name on a list to stop receiving junk mail. This one probably took only about ten minutes.

3. Go to optoutprescreen.com and "opt out" of all credit card offers. DONE. This one only took about five minutes.

That just leaves item #4, which is: Every time I get a catalog or piece of junk mail, set it aside and call the toll-free number and ask to be put on their "Do Not Mail" list. NOT DONE YET. I did start setting the catalogs and junk mail aside, and two week's worth is what makes up the photo at the top of this post. That's a LOT of junk mail. A total of three credit card offers and nine catalogs.

So I've done 3 out of 4 tasks, and I'll work on making those calls this week. I haven't seen a difference yet from completing the first three, but it might take a few months.

Have you taken the challenge to stop catalogs and junk mail once and for all? Do you want to start now? It's easy! Please leave your ideas, tips, and questions in the Comments section. And let me know if you're in!

9 comments:

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

I have, and the effort really pays off, but hopefully there will be a "do not mail" law one day similar to "do not call." There is no way most are going to be pro-active about this.

For credit card offers, I dialed 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688), and have never gotten any since.

I get loads of charitable solicitations, and can’t possibly donate to all these groups. Many of the non-profits I donate to share (read 'sell') my information, so I’ve emailed them asking them not to share my information and keep me on their 'once a year only' solicitation list. Any time I get an unwanted solicitation, I’ve e-mailed them to take me off their list. If I give a charitable donation in someone's name, I also ask them not to share the person's info. (I don't want to give the gift of junk mail!)

Kyla said...

In Canada all it takes is to put a red dot on your mail box and nothings arrives unless it is actually addressed to us. I am not talking a big red dot I think the one I have is the size of dime, I actually cut it out of part of red paper on a flyer. I love looking an my neighbour's overflowing mailbox and in mine just finding my latest movie from Zip.
For Charities I have them email things instead of mail, most have this option you just need to indicate it as a preference. I still get things on occasion but not even on a weekly basis.

Anonymous said...

Long ago I sent a letter to the credit agancies and asked them to stop providing my info to anyone wanting to get everyone in my mail zone worth of credit. I wrote them because I had noticed on my credit report that many times a year they were scanning me at the request of someone wanting to buy the addresses for visa solisitations. Then I would rip off the top of their letter where my address was, wrote a note asking to be removed from their mailing list and mail it back in their postage paid envelope. That cut way back on the mailings.

On charities I write a note on the card that goes back with the check that asks them not to make phone calls and not to trade my info with other lists. This usially works. Finally, when we get telephone calls from charities we ask to be removed from their call lists, and if its a charity that we normily give to we tell them that we do not respond to phone solisitations and any further calls will end our donations.

Hiptobeme said...

This is impressive. I can see how not lingering over catalogues could reduce the "need" to buy things as well as reducing paper. My shopping and eating out reduced when we got rid of cable as well. Funny how that works.

Cornelius Aesop said...

I should sign up for this but I'm moving soon, should I wait till I get a new address or does it not matter if you move after you do this as long as they have your name?

Angela said...

Catherine- Thanks for the tips with the charities. I have a real problem with this.

Kyla- A small red dot, how civilized. I guess in America if consumers tried to do that, there would be a lot of resistance and the sell-outs would rattle on about their "freedoms" being taken away or some such nonsense. I would be so thrilled to receive less than one piece of junk mail a week. Although I do get so much less so I am happy about that.

Anonymous- Thanks for the tips. My husband answers the calls now and tells them to please remove us from their call list. The problem is that there are always more new ones. I think I'm going to have to just stick with the same charities and never add any new ones because then the cycle begins again.

Angela said...

Sorry- I was still answering comments...

hiptobeme- Out of sight, out of mind works for me. I do not regret the time I used to spend poring over catalogs and debating whether to buy. Now it is just "no" and I don't even get most of the catalogs. I'm having fun lately pulling things out of my closet and wearing them in a new outfit. If I watched more TV, yes I would definitely be "wanting" more stuff, but if I don't see it, I don't want it.

Cornelius- I recognize you from Betsy and Warren's blog. If this is your first time here, welcome!
I'm not sure about your question, but I would wait until I move and then deal with what makes it to your new address. Probably some of it will take care of itself. And then just make sure you notify the most important mail you get- banks, employers, friends and family, bills- and forget about the rest.

Thanks for your comments and tips! I am definitely going to work on the charity mail/calls now.

Bellen said...

Years ago, at least 10, I contacted all the catalog companies that sent stuff to me to cancel. Have had no problem. I currently receive 2 catalogs and am canceling them because I can read on line.

Credit card offers, Medicare info and offers from health insurance companies (because hubby turned 65) and offers for mortgage insurance, AC offers, carpet cleaning and lawn mowing are harder to deal with. Local companies I call, others I return in their postage paid envelopes. Luckily our county has curbside recycling so it all goes in the bin - minus our name/address of course.

CrazeeTeacherLady said...

Thanks so much for the links. I opted out of credit card offers in my name and my husband's name. We get them in the mail every day! I also did the catalog choice. I am glad to be limiting the junk mail. Now I need to use the postage paid envelopes to mail requests to get off of other mailing lists.