Every time I check my tiny mailbox, I am amazed at how many retail catalogs the poor postman has to stuff in there every day. When I yank them out, I feel like I’m watching a shtick with a clown car. They just keep coming and coming! And I never even requested one of them. When you order something to be shipped to your home, most companies will continue to send catalogs after acquiring your address. I decided that no good can come of this. Firstly, I don’t need to be tempted to buy one more thing. And secondly, I really don’t need paper catalogs because when I do shop it is always online or in a store. Yet I keep receiving catalogs from Pottery Barn. And Land’s End. And Anthropologie. And Bed Bath and Beyond. And so on.
I decided to do a New Years cleanse and rid this unnecessary clutter from my mailbox and my life. For a couple of weeks, instead of tossing catalogs straight into the recycling bin, I kept them in a stack in a corner of my apartment. Letting them pile up like that made me more motivated about stopping these mailings because I could see right in front of me just how much paper is wasted by sending these booklets out to people who don’t want them. On New Year’s Eve I sat down with the stack, my phone, and Dirty Dancing on mute (because nobody puts Baby in a corner). One by one, I went through the catalogs and called the customer service numbers listed on each. It took about 5 boring minutes per call to actually get through the phone menu and be placed on hold to speak with a human (hence having a movie on for entertainment). I asked each service representative I spoke with to remove me completely from all mailings, and inquired how long it would take before I would no longer receive anything. The typical answer was 6 weeks. I also specifically asked that no catalogs be sent in the future, even if I ordered from the company again. Some were very accommodating of this, like Anthropologie. Some, like Eddie Bauer, reacted like I had just asked them to squeeze a cinder block through a garbage disposal. For those companies that told me they could not guarantee removal from future mailings, I politely asked that they note on the call record or for their manager that I had requested this. I may be the one squeaky wheel at this point but if others request the same in the future, perhaps these retailers will alter their direct mailing practices. If you are fed up with an overstuffed mailbox, I encourage you to try doing this. It’s worth the chunk of time you will spend on hold listening to bad music, just to know that you’re not wasting so much paper every week.
I finally made my way through about 13 catalogs, and next I need to find a way to stop that useless free newspaper of weekly grocery specials that is stuffed into everyone’s inbox. There’s always something… But come mid-February, I expect I will have a much less cluttered mailbox and therefore an emptier recycling bin!
UPDATE: One of my favorite readers tipped me off that there are some websites that can save you time calling individual companies by stopping them all from one place:
– catalogchoice.org (to stop mail from specific companies)
– dmachoice.org (manage which mail offers you want and which you don’t)
– coxtarget.com/mailsuppression/s/DisplayMailSuppressionForm (stop Valpak)
– directmail.com/directory/mail_preference (national do not mail list)
– optoutprescreen.com (opt out of pre-screened credit card and insurance offers for 5+ years – but won’t affect your ability to apply for a credit card whenever you choose)
– valassis.com/1024/Contact/contact_home.aspx (stop red plum coupon packages/grocery specials).
This is great to know about and I hope it saves you some time. Thanks!