Somehow—in the last half of 2006—our junk-mail situation had become unbearable. In addition to the (sadly) years-long 'relationships' that we've apparently agreed to with Eddie Bauer, Victoria's Secret, Anthropologie, Crate & Barrel and the like NOW we were getting inundated with second- and third-rate catalogs from odd assorted 'Fruit & Berry' vendors tucked away in New England, crap-ass Hammacher-Schlemmer and 'Danbury Mint'-type trinket shops. Places we'd never even heard of, let alone invited into our lives.
Honestly? I was starting to feel for our poor mail carrier. No lie—there were days when I was pulling a full 3 or 4 pounds of mail out of our box. And I'm not naive enough to assume that we're the only household on the route with such a weighty payload. I can only imagine that mail carrier worker's comp claims must be skyrocketing in recent years.
So I finally decided that we'd had enough, and I surprised LeeAnn for Christmas with a year-long membership to Greendimes, a service that gets you off of junk mail lists (and keeps you off.) I'm not gonna get into how they do it —they've got plenty of information on their site. (And an FAQ list.) Suffice to say, it ain't rocket science, but the secret is persistence (which I typically lack.)
After only about 6 weeks or so of membership, Greendimes definitely seems to be worth the cost (which is $3/a month—we joined at the 'Sapling' level and paid 36 bucks for the whole year.) Our average mailbox payload is way down, and our bulk-rate mail seems to be a lot more targeted (fewer blind solicitations and bogus mortgage refi offers.) We mostly just get legitimate bills and some unwelcome offers from companies that we do actually do business with (Chase for instance—is there anyone left in America who's been able to successfully avoid becoming a Chase customer? I wanna shake your hand.)
My favorite feature of Greendimes is the Catalog Stop Request. You just log in, visit your account, and view a list of popular catalogs (from a list of 60, we've probably gotten about half of them at one time or another.) Check one off, type in your customer number (usually you can find it in a yellow box on the catalog's mailing label) and Greendimes does the rest: contacts the company, gets you off their list. And checks back in periodically to keep you off the list. Sweet.
I think I'm driving LeeAnn a little nuts—every time we get a catalog, I pester her to let me cancel it through Greendimes. Of course, some of those catalogs she wants to keep getting. On those days, she gets my crestfallen face.
In addition to all of the obvious green benefits to reducing your junk-mail intake, Greendimes helps you go one step further: they've partnered with Trees for the Future and will plant a tree for you for every month that you're a member! (They select the location and type of tree—projects they're currently funding are in Senegal, India and Haiti.)
I have to admit, I was more than a little skeptical when I finally decided to give it a try. But the junk-mail deluge has slowed to a trickle. If you think you'd be curious enough to join, use this link and Greendimes will add you to my network if you join. (Full disclosure: as far as I know, there's no monetary reward for me convincing you to join. This may change in the future.)