May "baby steps" challenge: stop those catalogs and junk mail once and for all

A few weeks ago, I wrote this post about how even though I’d joined The Compact and pledged to Buy Nothing New this year, I don’t feel like a good role model for green living. And I vowed to Go Green this year, using the baby steps method, which works best for me if I want to change a habit long term.

I want to do one challenge per month for the next six months, and it’s already May 4th, but there’s still plenty of time because I’ve picked the easiest one on the list. The challenge for May is to stop those catalogs and junk mail once and for all. I should have done it years ago, but there’s no time like the present. I’m so excited that by this time next month, we’ll get less than half the mail we’re getting now, and it will be stuff we actually WANT. Remember when it was fun to get mail?

I hope you’ll join me in this baby steps challenge if you haven’t already gotten a handle on your junk mail. I have a simple four-step plan:

1. Sign up for Catalog Choice. This will let me choose the catalogs I want to receive. Previously I was down to ordering from one or two, but since I’m doing The Compact I’ll opt out of all catalogs.

2. Also put my name on Forest Ethic’s Do Not Mail List. This should help with the rest of the junk mail that’s not listed by Catalog Choice.

3. For all those credit card offers, I’ll register to “opt out” at I already have more credit cards than I need, and actually only use one of them.

4. This may be unnecessary if I do items #1-#3, but every time I get a piece of junk mail I’ll set it aside and call the toll-free number and ask to be put on their “Do Not Mail” list.

That should take care of our unwanted junk mail, if not by the end of the month, within the next couple of months. I estimate the first 3 steps will take me a total of less time than it took to write this post. And I might spend 5-10 minutes a couple of times a week calling companies and asking them to remove my name from their list.

So that’s the challenge. Are you in? I’ll update you on my progress halfway through May. And please let me know if you have any tips or questions, and if you want to join in the challenge in the Comments section.


  1. Meg says

    I use Catalog Choice and love it!

    For everything not covered, I find a contact email on their website than hit it with a canned response I have set up in Gmail that goes something like this:

    “Please remove the following address from your mailing list: ….


    Works like a charm and I have much less junk mail now!

  2. stephanie says

    And don’t forget – when you are checking out at a mall store and they ask you for your address/email – just say – NO!

  3. lala2074 says

    What a great post!

    I need to find similar in Australia to be removed from Junk Mail catalogues.

    We receive a lot of unsolicited mail in our letter box, despite a ” No Junk Mail” sign on it.

    Also Mr Techno likes to pick up the catalogues when he is at the mall. To my horror, he told me that he even took a catalogue out of someone else’s letterbox the other day when he saw that we hadn’t received one due to our ” No Junk Mail” sign!


  4. FOO says

    I’ve done what you suggested and it is amazing how little junk mail we get now – amazing and wonderful!

    I’ve also set up our banking on line so I no longer get paper bills and it is *so* much faster and easier to click and pay – and you save on stamps, too!


  5. calimama @ compactbydesign says

    I would love to hear your successes with this step as well as your challenges. Which flyers/mailings were the hardest to stop?
    Not that I don’t hope great success for you, I just want to know if I’m the only one with challenges in that area!

  6. Ellen says

    I did this several months ago and love not having piles of crap–though I do still get some unwanted mail. My failing is in accepting a free subscription to a trade magazine. I never read it–it goes straight into the recycling bin, never even entering the house, yet I know if there are strikes again, I’ll be wanting to see it, and the subscription WAS free. Still wasting a lot of trees though when the info is probably available online. Maybe guilt will motivate me soon to cancel that one.

  7. Angela says

    Meg- That’s sounds good- maybe I’ll email instead of call, because I think that would be faster.

    Stephanie- I don’t give out my email or address at stores, plus I don’t go to mall stores this year! One more perk of Buying Nothing New. I looked at your profile- are you still looking for good Mexican food in Portland? My brother and several friends live there and I know they’d be interested in that information… Your criteria sound just like ours.

    Lala- Your husband and mine sound similar (lots of papers, projects,etc.) So the first catalog I put aside to call to have them remove us from their mailing list is this funny little one called “Home Trends”- it’s the kind of place that sells all the little gadgets you never knew you needed. It’s always good for a laugh, but my husband has actually ordered from there. For instance- I kid you not- a hat holder for baseball caps that goes into the dishwasher. So when I said I was going to get off their mailing list he looked crestfallen. I don’t think I’ll have the heart to call that one.

    FOO- I’m encouraged to hear that it worked for you. And yes, we do all bills and banking online and I love it!

    Calimama- I will post a progress report mid-month and a wrap up at the end of the month.

    Ellen- My husband and I both receive two trade union magazines each, the same ones. The umbrella union mag (IATSE) goes straight into the trash. The editor’s guild sometimes gets read, especially if we know someone being interviewed (or one time I wrote an interview). But I guess I should get us off that IATSE list.

  8. WilliamB says

    Better than getting your addy removed is to get on the store or magazine’s “do not solicit” list. This means that if they get your addy from somewhere else, they still aren’t supposed to use it.

    Don’t forget to stop it at the source:
    – magazine subscriptions,
    – catalog purchases,
    – online purchases,
    – charities (bet you didn’t know they sometimes share their lists),
    – professional and alumni organizations,
    Tell all these organizations not to sell/rent your data and to put you on their “do not solicit” lists.

    Here’s a kicker: when you give the Post Office a forward mail order, they sell that info to catalog stores. If at all possible, contact organizations individually or you will be put on every list under heaven each time you move.

    I would love not to get catalogs. I have concluded this won’t happen. It takes years to get off some company’s lists. (I’m not exaggerating, I kept records.) Magazines are pretty good about not soliticing but I have NEVER had a catalog store follow my “do not solicit” instruction. It takes several follow-ups before it ceases.

    Companies can also get your name from home ownership lists and voter registration rolls, both of which are public information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *