Opting out.

Junk mail catalogsCall me nostalgic, but I still like getting paper mail. Worthwhile paper mail, that is. The kind that comes from an old friend or family member, which is thoughtful and often handwritten with things like How are you? or Love from all of us, and might even include a picture of a face I have not seen in a while.

But since the entire civilized world has moved to the internet, I no longer have a need for phone books, catalogs, and department store ads. And with at least one ugly commercial interrupting our TV every ten minutes or so, the stacks of negative campaign ads that came to our mailbox during recent months were very, very redundant.

Enter Catalog Choice. I signed up for their free service some time ago, when a local grocery store I never even frequent started stuffing my mailbox with a weekly ad book the size of half a newspaper. Catalog Choice will help you curb the flow of wasted paper, as long as you can resist throwing the stuff in the recycle bin before you opt out of it. You will need exact addressee names and (sometimes) customer numbers, which are printed on your unwanted mail. If you prefer a more automated approach, they also have a MailStop service for a reasonable annual fee. I have not tried MailStop, but have found the free service worth the effort. When a few weeks later your mailbox is no longer bursting with junk, you feel like you may have saved a tree or two.

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