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The holiday catalogs have been pouring into my house for weeks now and they usually go straight to the recycle bin ( or the bathroom ) The photo is just from last week alone. 15 catalogs a week. WOW. So of the 19 billion catalogs mailed out to consumers this year, I am getting a big chunk of catalogs.

Last year I spent a few hours of my time to send out requests to companies to stop sending me their catalogs and gradually the pile has gotten bigger. Some companies are worse than others and will send a catalog a week. I can’t imagine what their print order must be. I work in printing so you would think I would be happy about all the printing going on but my environmentalist brain kicks in and wants to condemn this practice. I am a magazineaholic at heart and am in the correct business but I also have a small house and can only fit so many magazines in it. This spring I managed to purge many of the magazines in my house and took out what I wanted to keep and recycled the rest of the book.

Earth911 has an article on catalog waste that says, ” Of what we throw away, 34 percent is made of paper and only half of this gets reused. These catalogs and paper products in landfills increase the amount of level of methane gas emissions. Methane gas has a significant carbon footprint, as it is about 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”

According to Catalog Choice, a project sponsored by the Ecology Center, these 19 billion catalogs have a serious environmental impact:

  • 53 million trees used
  • 3.6 million tons of paper used
  • 38 billion BTUs of energy used to produce this paper, enough to power 1.2 million homes for a year
  • 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equal to the annual emissions of two million cars
  • 53 billion gallons of water used, enough to fill 81,00 Olympic-sized swimming pools

Most catalog companies don’t use recycled paper. Many use bleach and gloss coated paper productions which release chemical toxins into the environment.

All municipal recycling programs accept catalogs. If you do have select catalogs to which you subscribe, be sure to put them in your recycling bin.

Of course with the economy the way that is is the companies are trying to lure us in with free shipping. And I admit, living where I do I am an avid internet shopper during the holidays. But I use the internet to shop and not the catalogs.  Amazon is a biggie at our house because they offer so much that isn’t available in Toms Brook.

There are companies that you can contact like this one Catalog Choice that allow you to opt out of having the catalogs delivered into your mailbox.

Maybe I’ll join the One Tree Club and get a patch to wear around like the one on the site. Students are joining this club and taking the Catalog Cancelling Challenge. On their site they state that if 360 catalogs come from one tree (19 billion catalogs divided by 53 million trees per year), then canceling 60 stops 360 and saves one tree. Using this DOWNLOADABLE LOG (click here) kids can track their canceling and aim for 60.

Be sure to at least recycle the catalogs that you get this year and consider contacting some of the companies to take your name off the list so you don’t get so many next year. That is certainly what I am going to be doing in January.