Sustainability

Published on August 29th, 2008 | by robinshreeves

11

Catalog Waste Part 1: NOW is the time to Cancel Unwanted Catalogs and Stop Paper Waste

Catalog choice logoActually, the best time to cancel unwanted catalogs was probably about two months ago before the first waves of attack came, but now is the time to stop future attacks. What attacks am I talking about? The dreaded onslaught of holiday catalogs. The first should arrive right after Labor Day if they haven’t started coming already. Catalog companies will continue to send several copies of the same catalog (trying to trick consumers with a different cover) until a few days before Christmas.

Then there will be, perhaps, a two week lull. After that will come the post-holiday sale catalogs. Because nobody gets everything they want for the holidays, catalog companies are kind enough to slash prices so that you can buy yourself what you really wanted. How do I know all this?

I’m a former catalog junkie.

That was before my month long campaign to rid my house of catalogs, and unfortunately, it was before Catalog Choice.

According to a 2002 report issued by the Environmental Defense, in the United States about 17 billion catalogs are sent out each year. That’s about 3.6 million tons of paper. Eight years after this report was issued, I can only assume that the statistics are even higher.

Here are some other statistics. Over 95% of American catalogs are printed on virgin paper. If all of those catalogs contained just 10% post consumer recycled paper, which has no significant cost or quality differences from virgin paper, 1 trillion 702 billion pounds of wood could be saved annually. That translates into saving a whole heck of a lot of trees that could be absorbing carbon dioxide.

Getting rid of unwanted catalogs is easy, and it’s a way to put a big dent in your personal consumption of paper. There are several ways to stop getting catalogs. You can, of course, call each catalog company one by one, as I did, being transfered and put on hold. Or you can use an online service, such as Catalog Choice, that will do the work for you.

Catalog Choice is a free service that offers those who receive catalogs the ability to get off of individual catalog mailing lists. After signing up for an account, users can type in the names of the catalogs that they don’t want and request that they be canceled. If a catalog is not in their system, users can request that it be put in their system.

Although I did my first round of canceling by phone, I have since used Catalog Choice for new catalogs and it’s simple and straight forward. According to their website their are 989,466 registered users who have opted out of 13,050,916 catalogs. That is a whole heck of a lot of trees saved.

Why not add to those positive statistics. Take some time, today, and cancel some catalogs. Now is the right time to do it because the last months of the year are when the most catalogs are sent. There’s an added benefit to canceling catalogs. If you don’t get a catalog, you won’t know the items in the catalog exist. It just may help you buy less stuff, too, furthering the good to the environment and your wallet.

I realize that there are some catalogs you might not want to cancel. So on Monday, in part 2, I’ll discuss how to help make the catalogs you do receive more a little more earth friendly.

Image from Catalog Choice website

Read More:

Paper: It’s Not Just From Trees Anymore

Stop a Catalog, Save a Tree

Zinio: Helping to Make Your Magazine Subscriptions Sustainable



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  • http://greenoptions.com/author/jsvk13 Justin Van Kleeck

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Robin, and providing the link to Catalog Choice. I find it downright offensive how liberal companies are with sending out catalogues. Even “environmentally conscious” companies send out more of those things than I can have time to read (if I ever felt inclined). That is one good thing about technology, at least, is that nowadays most of that content can be put online…though of course the marketing/advertising aspect of it disappears that way.

  • http://www.greenlabron.com greg

    I started cancelling the mountain of catalogues I received every week in late 2007 when I started to experience the onslaught of holiday catalogs. It took a good 5 months to get them all gone, and I still have some trickling in. The hardest one to stop? Pottery Barn! For some reason I kept getting them for almost 8 months after my first request to have them stopped!

  • http://www.alittlegreenereveryday.com/ Robin Shreeves

    Greg – I canceled Pottery Barn in my first round of canceling by phone and it stuck. Try again by phone or use Catalog Choice. Apparently your first request wasn’t handled correctly on their end. That is definitely one of those catalogs that get you feeling like the things you already have aren’t good enough.

    Justin – Glad to bring it to everyone’s attention. This is a problem that is so easy to take care of on an individual basis because of the ability to do it right online. It takes less than a minute to sign up and cancel one catalog.

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  • Casey

    to cancel pottery barn catalog call 888-779-5176 hit option 4 it will take you right to a friendly person have you customer number ready. It took me 30 seconds!!!!

  • Sharon

    I want to unsubscribe to unwanted catalogs. Clicked on Catalog Choice but unable to access the website in order to complete the process. I have used a “Unsubscription service” in the past but did not record the name. I ordered something from Lands End at Christmas and now it seems I get a catalog daily. I googled , several websites popped up, some charge a fee, from what I read on this website there is no fee but it is not easy to access. Thanks for what you do to save the environment. Sharon

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  • http://jan_dick@willapabay.org Janet Wilson

    I used Catalog Choice to successfully decrease the number of unwanted catalogs in the past. I would like to use it again as unwanted catalogs have increased over the intervening years. I do not remember the password from the earlier effort and therefore cannot log onto the service because my name has already been used and I cannot match the
    password to it.

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