Friday, December 28, 2007

catalogs, forests of catalogs

We rarely go to a mall or even to the big box stores. We’re Costco members, but don’t go there very often, either. About the only stores we go to more than once a month are grocery stores and Walgreen’s (and even Walgreen’s might be a once-every-two-months trip). Home Depot is the exception—mostly because Stanley gets what he needs there for his non-tech support, non-web work.

So the bulk of our non-grocery shopping is done online. All the places we shop online have very good, detailed websites. We don’t need catalogs. We don’t use them to shop, and we certainly never order over the telephone. I do realize that retailers wouldn’t send them if they weren’t money makers, But we don’t want them, and it’s always been really difficult to opt out of them. We received, at last count, 28 catalogs we don’t want. And it wouldn’t even be so bad if they came once or twice a year, but some of them seem to come weekly or biweekly—way too many trees dying to show me pictures of crap I neither need nor can afford (not if we want to pay our mortgage off in ten years!)

So I was thrilled to read about a site that offers a way to opt out of getting catalogs by selecting the catalog and entering your customer number, and within a couple of months the shiny paper torrent is supposed to stop. The site is called Catalog Choice and is a non-profit organization: “Catalog Choice is a sponsored project of the Ecology Center. It is endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and funded by the Overbrook Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, and the Kendeda Fund.”

It can take about ten weeks to process your catalog opt out, and you can keep track of what you’ve opted out of and even reverse the decision if you’re so inclined. We’ve dumped 28 catalogs so far and are looking forward to being relatively catalog-free as of mid-February. What I like about the site is that it’s an opt-in program for merchants as well, and for each merchant listed a corresponding website link is provided. I would much rather get email from the companies I buy from than catalogs—emails don’t have to be gathered up and tied up and put out with the recycling. Check it out!

posted by lee on 12/28/07 at 10:34 AM

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