YOU LIKE TO DECLUTTER YOUR MAILBOX?
by Whit Gibbons
December 16, 2007
one of those people who dislikes having a mailbox full of unwanted catalogs?
If so, read the response to a query I received last week for a solution
to this vexing problem.
Q: I recently
read something about how a person can deal with unwanted catalogs that
arrive in the mail. I'll bet information on how to do this would be as
popular as the Do Not Call list, particularly at this time of year. Actively
helping the environment while putting a stop to an annoying home intrusion
sounds like a good idea. Do you know anything about such a program?
A: Go to
the Catalog Choice website at www.catalogchoice.org
and you will have your answer. "Catalog Choice is a free service
that allows you to decide what gets in your mailbox. Use it to reduce
your mailbox clutter, while helping save natural resources."
The project is sponsored by Ecology Center, an organization that has been
actively involved in promoting environmentally sound projects for decades.
Both the National Wildlife Federation and Natural Resources Defense Council
have endorsed the effort. With Catalog Choice "consumers can indicate
which catalogs they no longer wish to receive, and businesses [will be
sent] a list of consumers no longer wanting to receive their catalogs."
The service is entirely free and it's easy to use.
You don't have to be an ardent environmentalist to find this program appealing.
If you get catalogs that aren't even fun for window-shopping or if you're
tired of receiving the very same catalog two, three, even four times,
then log onto Catalog Choice today. If you are interested in helping the
environment, you will enjoy reducing the burgeoning quantity of slick
paper that arrives at the front door and leaves unopened on its way to
the garbage can or recycling bin. And surely even the least environmentally
conscious person won't object to curtailing the "19 billion catalogs
[that] are mailed to American consumers" each year.
According to the website, 53 million trees are cut down to produce the
3.6 million tons of paper used to print those catalogs. Regardless of
whether you think Al Gore should have won a Nobel Prize for mentioning
global warming a time or two, you might find the following statistics
disquieting. The Catalog Choice calculates that the production and disposal
of a year's worth of catalogs results in 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide
emissions. That, in case you're wondering, is roughly equal to the emissions
produced by 2 million cars.
Standard questions to ask when trying to decide whether to support a particular
environmental cause are Who benefits? Who loses? and What does the organization
promoting the program gain? As best I can tell, most individuals and society
in general would benefit from the reduced production and dispersal of
catalogs. Eliminating the personal nuisance factor, combined with the
overall environmental benefits, is clearly positive. People who might
suffer from the program are those who earn a living harvesting trees to
make paper and those who design, produce, and deliver catalogs. Pretty
clearly, more people would benefit from the Catalog Choice program than
would be hurt by it. With regard to the organizations supporting the program,
apparently they gain nothing but the satisfaction of protecting the environment.
of the businesses that use catalogs to advertise? They too could benefit
from Catalog Choice by eliminating the cost of producing and distributing
catalogs that people are not reading anyway. They could spend money designing
and maintaining more effective websites. An added benefit for potential
customers is that a website doesn't enter your home uninvited.
To try out
the service, I went to the recycling bin, picked out a catalog, and followed
the step-by-step instructions on the website. In less time than it would
take to toss out unwanted catalogs for a week, I had "successfully
personal information, which was minimal anyway.
seasonal comment. You might want to use the site's "Invite a Friend"
feature. Information about catalogchoice.org might be the best gift your
friend gets this year.
you have an environmental question or comment, email