Mail and the Role it Plays in Clutter

Since we’re on the topic of clutter, I have to share with you that after years of working to remove our names and my parent’s names from catalog mailing lists, I’m still spending time doing it.

As I’ve shared before, my mother’s mail was forwarded to us after her death and yes, after nearly 30 years after his death, we even received a solicitation for life insurance – of all things – for my dad.

As Gail commented on the Living Large Facebook page, in a small home, there just is no room for yesterday’s mail to be lying around, so we’ve done what we can to eliminate all unnecessary junk mail from our lives.

One of the ways we’ve found is a great service that anyone who wants removed from catalogs should look into.

It’s Catalog Choice, a free, one-stop service that allows you to remove your name and address (or anyone’s name at your address) from catalog mailing lists.

I was a little frustrated this week when I went to input requests for two catalogs that I had requested stop sending us mail in 2009, but I guess companies have short memories.

When I went to Catalog Choice, which I hadn’t had to do for a few months, I noticed the website has added a new counter.

The counter not only tells us the total environmental impact made by Catalog Choice subscribers, but also our individual impact.

Here’s what it totaled yesterday:


  • Trees saved: 734.314, two of which I’ve saved with my choices.
  • 305,828,417 pounds of greenhouses gasses saved. My contribution to that: 788
  • 108,412,096 pounds of solid waste, I saved 280 pounds.
  • 736,539,567 gallons of water. My contribution: 1,896

I love the fact that Catalog Choice is not only helping me eliminate catalog clutter from our lives, but also showing us that our choices are also making a difference on the earth.

What is the piece of clutter that drives you craziest? Have you acted to eliminate “junk” mail and if not, would getting the statistics on how you’re helping the environment motivate you more?

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27 Responses

  1. The craziest? The envelopes that have a plastic window. I compost any junk mail that makes it past the gates; if it’s got a plastic window, though, I have to make sure to tear that out and throw it away rather than just tossing it all in the compost pile.

  2. Merr says:

    We receive a lot of mail from charities seeking donations. It appears that when you donate to one genre of charity, you ultimately receive mail from similar yet different charities. It seems almost impossible to slow down the paper train in this regard.

    • Kerri says:

      I’ve found, Merr, that the only wa to get off of charity mailings is to notify the charity directly. It’s a cumbersome process.

  3. Sheryl M says:

    In this day and age of internet shopping and catalogs online, you would think the companies who mail catalogs would be jumping on the bandwagon to save $$$ and stop printing and mailing. It sounds like their marketing departments are still old school.
    Just last night I sat down with a 2″ stack of catalogs entering info into catalog choice in hopes of stopping the flow. Several of them were duplicates!

    • Kerri says:

      I can see still producing catalogs. While I’ve been on the Internet since 1992 and doing some online shopping since, my husband has yet to warm to computers. If he needs to find something online, he comes to me. 🙂 But, I cannot see sending catalogs to everyone in the country anymore. Send them only when I request one.

  4. Years ago I signed up on a site similar to the one Casey suggested, not just for the clutter, but as a way to reduce the chances of an identity thief swiping my name. So if you need more incentive to cut the clutter, you can add protecting your finances to the list.

  5. NoPotCooking says:

    I’ve reduced my catalogs through this site too. There are some catalogs I like to receive, but honestly does LL Bean need to send me one every week between Thanksgiving and Christmas? It’s just too much.

    • Kerri says:

      That’s the way I feel about Harry&David. I’ve done business with them, but I don’t need 6 catalogs between Thanksgiving and Christmas and I would really prefer to look online!

    • Carley says:

      I had the same problem with Lands End, but called them and they were able to input something into their system so that I would only get one or two a year. Perhaps other vendors have the same option.

  6. Jane Boursaw says:

    What clutter drives me craziest? All of it! I play this game with my desk every day – once in a rare while, it’s clean. But most of the time, it’s awash in clutter. I need to somehow re-train my brain to handle clutter before it builds up on my desk.

  7. patty says:

    I get junk mail for my ex husband, who has never ever lived at my address as well as his deceased parents who died 35 years before i moved to my present address. Mail to my aunt who stayed with me for 3 months after she got out of the hospital, my kids; my son in law and daughter who lived with me while their house was being built. the post office has left me notes wanting to know how many people live in my house!

  8. You can also opt out of all direct mail just like you can with telemarketing calls through – I did it and watched the volume of junk mail go down to almost NOTHING. Seriously, I get about 1 piece of junk mail a week now and that’s it.

  9. Linda Mason says:

    I love reading blogs especially one like this. Our little house is 12 x 28,just not finished like yours is. But , it is an inspiration.

    Hopefully we will be on our land in about six months. I will have a garden and plan on using all that just for my compost after shredding. Just not all the fancy pic one. Don’t think all the chemical used to print it would be good for the garden.

    • Kerri says:

      Congratulations on your new little home, Linda! Please send us some photos when you get it done. We love photos. No, don’t think the chemicals would be good for the garden. 🙂

  10. Becky King says:

    For awhile there I had this great mailperson who showed me ways to send back mail to companies I didn’t ask for their catalogs and especially credit card companies wanting to send me their cards.. I guess at the time it would cost the companies $$ in postage if it was returned.. lol But then with my big mouth {telling everyone to do this} they passed some rule/law that you can’t do that anymore in our area.. that sucked. Cause it was kinda fun.. giggle

    • Kerri says:

      Not sure anyone can tell you *not* to send the envelopes back, Becky, I don’t think that is a productive way to get removed. I’ve worked for a large bank’s credit card facility and those envelopes are opened and info is input. If it doesn’t contain anything or has messages such as Kathleen’s, it probably just goes into the trash without any action, except frustrating the day of the lowly clerk opening the mail. Here’s info on how to opt out of those offers, which is more productive for you and for our environment:

  11. My biggest beef right now is with credit card companies. I am so angry at what has been done to our economy by big banks and insurance companies, and it just makes my blood boil when I get yet another pre-approved credit card application, trying to tempt me into as much debt as it will take to bankrupt us. Just sent one back in the postage paid envelope yesterday, to Bank of America, but first I took a sharpie and wrote **** you! Sorry for the implied language, but I’ve had it with their predatory and greed driven corruption.

    • Kerri says:

      While it may not be as gratifying, opting out is probably more productive, Kathleen. 🙂 Here’s the website with the info:

      • I might do that at some point, but for now I’m just getting too much gratification from my current method of profanity and costing them a little in postage. I know, it’s wrong but I can’t stop myself. ;-D

        • Kerri says:

          unfortunately, I’ve been on the receiving end of those kinds of notes, Kathleen, when I worked at Citi. Someone even mailed some sort of crap – yes, literally crap – once. Fortunately, that one wasn’t addressed to me. As I wrote to Becky, it really is unproductive and doesn’t accomplish anything but frustrating the day of someone who, by whatever circumstances, works there. Putting more bad Karma into the world is not a good thing, IMO.

          • Carley says:

            Oh yay, a lecture. Just what everyone wants.
            I’m with Kathleen, but I’d have sent it to the President of the bank or maybe the Board of Directors. You can get the addresse from the Financial Reports of publicly traded companies.

  12. Kerri says:

    Yeah, Liz, I had to laugh when my father received that life insurance offer. I would have gladly paid the first premium if they would have paid out, but the representative at the company didn’t think that was very funny. 😉

  13. Liz says:

    Getting off the junk lists has to become a priority for us. I realized my grandfather has been getting junk mail at my parents house. He died in 1970 a year before they bought the place. I do laugh a bit when my grandmother who passed away 3 years ago gets offers for “$2,000 a week for life” from publishers clearing house.