Photo by Max Cook by permission
‘Tis the season for the onslaught of holiday parties, gift buying, and yes, the dreaded holiday catalog barrage. I don’t know about your mailbox, but during the holiday season, it is filled to the gills with tons of catalogs for every kitchen gadget, home improvement, and decorating accessory known to man. On top of my catalog barrage, I still have numerous marketing solicitations, and other assorted junk mail. My mailbox needs Advil after the holiday season.
I have always prided myself on the fact that I try to recycle as much as I can. The other day, I went out to my recycling bins and saw they were already full after one week. It suddenly dawned on me that I shouldn’t be that rooster in the hen house touting how good of a recycler that I am. As green as I try to be, why did I not stop all those catalogs and advertising from coming to my house in the first place? I banished myself to the hall of green shame for allowing countless trees to be cut down because I was too lazy to do something about it. Just recycling it was not good enough. My husband on the other hand was getting sick of the amount of recycling and started deleting himself from catalog lists. He has to tend to the recycling every month. A good motivation, don’t you think?
Recently, I received an email from EarthEasy about a new free service to remove your name from catalogs called Catalog Choice, a sponsored project by the Ecology Center for US residents. At launch time, there are 600 catalogs in the database. In addition, the service allows you to add more catalogs to the database.
Here are some scary thoughts about the production of catalogs from Catalog Choice:
· “Over eight million tons of trees are consumed each year in the production of paper catalogs.
· Nearly half of the planet’s original forest cover is gone today. Forests have effectively disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 have lost more than 90% of their forest cover.
· The manufacturing, distribution, collection and disposal of catalogs generates global warming gases as well as air and water pollution. Reducing the number of unwanted catalogs that are mailed will help the environment.”
It is a free service and it is easy to register. Both you and your spouse can be on the same account. One chunk of paper taken out of my recycling bins!
Opt out of those Credit Card Offers
How about those darn credit card and insurance requests you always receive? OptOutPrescreen.com is “a joint venture among Equifax Information Services, LLC, Experian Information Solutions, Inc., Innovis Data Solutions, Inc., and TransUnion, LLC (collectively the “Consumer Credit Reporting Companies”). You can opt-in or opt-out from receiving the insurance and credit card solicitations for a period of five years or forever.
The form does ask for your social security number and does require you to mail in the form with your social security number and birth date partly “x”ed out. If you are squeamish about supplying your social security number over the internet, you can also complete this process via phone by dialing 888-5-OPT-OUT (888-567-8688).
Realize that you may continue to receive solicitation for some time, since the credit agencies may have already provided certain companies with your name prior to you opting out. In addition, it does not prevent you from receiving direct marketing material or local solicitations.
Another Marketing Solicitation?
Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is a trade association of companies who advertise their products and services directly to consumers through mail, magazine, telephone, internet, radio, and television. For a $1, Canadian and US residents can opt out of direct marketing from prospective companies that are members of the DMA for a period of three years either online or by mailing in a form. Please be aware that opting out of their solicitations will cause you to no longer receive mail from new catalogs, coupons, or announcements from new businesses.
If you wish to just remove yourself from a few companies, the Company suggests calling them. If you are unsuccessful in removing your name from their list, the DMA will help you by sending them a form that you fill out. It takes 30-90 days before your directive becomes effective.
Canadian residents can submit an online form to the Canadian Marketing Association to stop unwanted phone calls, faxes, and new contact direct mailings. This form deals with three types of solicitation as opposed to the DMA form above which only handles mail.
GreenDimes-Making it Easy
If you just don’t have the time or just want to make your junk mail worries vanish with a flick of a wand, GreenDimes is your answer. This service is only available to US residents.
“GreenDimes reduces the credit card offers, insurance offers, sweepstakes offers, coupon mailers, charitable solicitations and retail catalogs that your household receives. We can’t reduce mailings that are the result of a personal relationship you have with the company or organization. These include magazine subscriptions, bank statements, brokerage statements and school alumni mailings.”
For a mere $15.00, let Green Dimes be your personal administrative assistant to vanish your junk mail blues good-bye. The only work you need to do is fill out their Catalog Screener, and then the Company will do all the work. For each membership, they plant ten trees through their nonprofit tree partners.
If you refer friends to them, you can receive $5 per friend. Additionally, if you want to make an earthly impact this holiday, consider giving a GreenDimes gift to your friends, co-workers, or relatives. They will email your recipient a membership, and they can start their holiday with a junk free year. Similar to the above companies, expect three months to see results. Junk mail is printed months in advance.
What about businesses?
EcoLogical Mail Coalition is a free service for US business to reduce mail that is delivered to their former employees. It cost both business and marketing companies money when unread mail is sent to former employees. Businesses need to lessen the bulk mail they receive and dispose of. Additionally, the marketing firms that send the bulk mail want to reduce mailings that just get thrown out. This service is free to companies wishing to reduce their unwanted mail. It is suggested that a company submit the names of former employees for a period of at least five years from the date of joining the Coalition.
For our UK readers
I have not forgotten about my UK readers. Mailing Preference Service (MPS) is a free online service to reduce your junk mail for UK residents. The Company even has a division called Baby MPS to help stop baby related mailings. Like the above service, it takes approximately four months for the service to become fully effective.
Although recycling is an important part of saving our Earth, it is more important to stop using our natural resources. It is not enough to just recycle anymore where there are options to stop junk mail altogether. That beautiful grove of trees in a forest near you may be the next sweepstakes mailer. Just think about it…