Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The aftermath of upsizing season; catalogues weighing you down?

 What do the catalogues in your mailbox say about you?

The retail world has me profiled as an upscale interior designer-landscaping-gourmet chef with a serious interest in high-end electronics, telescopes, and cosmetics, requiring enough outdoor gear for a quick climb up and down Mt. Everest before a breakfast of mail-order sausages and assorted pears. Well equipped with an array of undergarments of various levels of practicality, I am not only prepared for any possible weather conditions or encounters, but ready to cope with the possible consequences of quick changes in and out of my collection of western riding boots, cross trainers, and four inch spike heels, because I am fully stocked with more orthopedic foot product options than a podiatrist.

Though I am not well-rounded or wealthy enough to be half of the shopper the retail companies want me to be, I will admit to you that I’ve had a longstanding catalogue reading habit. I find the process relaxing and the products interesting, particularly if it's two in the morning and I can't fall asleep but am too tired or stressed out to read any literature of substance. It's the same feeling I have when reading SkyMall in a plane. The number of trendy names that can possibly exist for the color that I call blue can keep me entertained for much longer than it should if I am procrastinating to avoid some other task. There have been times in my life when it's felt pretty terrific to get something in the mail that isn't a bill. At this point, there are many days when it's simply fun to imagine a time and place where people wear clothes other than jeans and tee-shirts, or where the desirability of a living room set isn't defined by the stain resistance of its upholstery. Cheaper than cable and safer than a lot of other more destructive vices, is there any real harm in my tea sipping, window shopping, ‘just looking’ retail voyeurism?

When the sheer volume of mailings started to increase last fall, I decided to take inventory. I deliberately saved each catalogue that we received in November and December. On January first, they weighed in at 24.2 pounds! That's a lot of weight sneaking into the mailbox a few ounces at a time, over a two-month period, resulting in NOT ONE SINGLE PURCHASE and ultimately ending up in the recycling bin.

With all of the downsizing I've been doing, I realize that I've been focusing more of my efforts on household exports than imports, and I've overlooked an important opportunity to eliminate waste at the entry point. It's certainly good to recycle this stuff, but for the sake of trees, ink, and the human and fossil fuel energy involved in transporting all of it to and from my home, it would be better to prevent unnecessary mail from showing up in the first place.

If you should chose to accept, this week's Downsize Challenge is to remove your name from mailing lists. 

Contact Mail Preference Service at Direct Marketing Association for more information. Complete a registration form at  Beware: You will have to exercise much more patience than if you simply placed an order, because although catalogue companies are capable of getting a package to your door within 24 hours, it can take three months to see any change in your mailbox.  You may also directly call the catalogue companies and ask that your name be deleted from their mailing list.

This step won't impact the solicitations you are getting from credit card companies, charitable organizations or political parties, or stop the arrival of mail addressed to a deceased loved one, but I promise to tackle those challenges sometime after I load the 24.2 pounds of catalogues into the back of my car for delivery to the recycling center.

UPDATE TO POST: January 27: I finally sat down today to tackle the registration form for mailing list removal. I found the DMA site to be exasperating...I followed the tip from KellyP recommending and just spent THREE HOURS entering each of my catalogues from the 24.2 pound stack. Fortunately some were duplicates. I have more confidence in this user-friendly site and would recommend it to others who are trying to eliminate the catalogue mailings. If you enter just a few at a time, it won't take you all afternoon.


  1. Tina from AustraliaJanuary 19, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    Mail order catalogues are not such a big thing in Australia (thank goodness!).

  2. Thank you for that! I'm so sick of junk mail. I didn't get 24 pounds this year, but I'm sick of getting ads for things I don't care about. Definitely taking your challenge!

    Just FYI, their newer site seems to work better for registration:

  3. I've had great success with Catalog Choice:

  4. I've found the easiest thing to do is rip off the address label, write "remove from mailing list" on it and send it back to the company. Yrs, you have to put a stamp on the envelope

  5. Yes you have to use stamps but it works miraculously. Haven't had trouble with junk mail in years

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