The Zero Waste Solution

When I heard about the organization, Catalog Choice, the nation’s leading mail preference service dedicated to eliminating unwanted mail, I was thrilled! More trees to hug, I thought, as I scampered to answer the PR lady’s email.

They just announced the cumulative environmental benefits of its municipal partnership program, which launched one year ago. Hold onto your hats, folks. This one’s good!

Since March 2011, more than 530,000 opt-out requests have been processed through Catalog Choice for Communities, which translates to:


·         20,000 trees saved (the amount of trees in New York’s Central Park)


·         19,000,000 gallons of water saved (29 Olympic sized swimming pools)


·         3,000,000 pounds of solid waste saved (enough to fill 125 garbage trucks)


*   8,000,000 pounds of greenhouse gas saved (the amount of emissions produced annually by 364 HUMMERS)

Created by the Berkeley-based non-profit, Catalog Choice for Communities is a zero-waste program for unwanted mail and phone books. Catalog Choice provides each municipal partner with a tailored website hosted on, where residents can opt-out of unwanted mail. Summary reports by zip code are shared by Catalog Choice on citizen participation, solid waste diversion, CO2 reductions and other environmental benefits. Communities that work with Catalog Choice stop five times more unsolicited mail at the source than others in the U.S.

“Not only does unwanted mail cause clutter and waste resources, it is costly to collect and dispose of, which we ultimately pay for through local taxes and fees,” said Chuck Teller, executive director, Catalog Choice. “As communities pursue zero waste and landfill diversion, this innovative program is essential. It is a win-win for everyone, including companies that don’t want to send mail to people who don’t want it.”

Americans receive more than 100 billion pieces of unsolicited mail each year, and 62 percent of it is not recycled.


“Communities around the country recognize the magnitude of problems created by unwanted mail and want to make a change. Since we launched the program, 19 communities representing over 100 cities have signed on,” added Teller. “We anticipate doubling that partnership number in 2012 and look forward to rapidly expanding this movement and our impact.”

Current partners are: San Jose, Pasadena, Redlands, Santa Monica, the Costa Mesa Sanitary District, Los Gatos and Berkeley, CA; Boulder County, CO; Cambridge and Brookline, MA; Seattle and King County, WA; Santa Fe, NM; Chicago, Il; Margate City, NJ; Tompkins County (Ithaca) and Village of Stewart Manor, NY; Marion County (Salem), OR; and Southern Maine.

In addition to its community partnerships, Catalog Choice offers consumers a number of options to opt-out of unsolicited mail including their premium MailStop™ solutions. MailStop Mobile is the first smartphone app which allows users to take pictures of unwanted mail and get delisted for free. MailStop Envelopes is the offline complement and allows users to mail in labels. Catalog Choice processes the requests and monitors compliance.

About Catalog Choice

Founded in 2007 to provide consumers greater control over the marketing materials that enter their mailboxes, Catalog Choice is the world’s largest preference and privacy portal. Since its launch, Catalog Choice has connected more than 1.5 million consumers with 4,200 direct marketing companies to process over 20 million suppression requests through free membership services, Catalog Choice for Communities partnerships and MailStop™ solutions—including MailStop Mobile, MailStop Envelopes and MailStop Shield. By reducing unwanted mail and phone books, Catalog Choice’s free and low-cost services reduce deforestation, greenhouse gases, solid waste and water consumption. Catalog Choice, a non-profit organization based in Berkeley, Calif., is supported by grants from the Overbrook Foundation, Kendeda Fund, Merck Family Fund and Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, as well as contributions from members.


  1. willowdrinkwater

    April 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    I was told once by a postal worker that it was the catalogue business that kept the United States Post Office in business.
    Just like the horse that created so much manure as our prime
    source of transportation years ago, the catalogue business has
    filled our landfills. So glad time is marching on. The internet
    is changing our lives. Thanks for this post, Christine.

    1. powerofslow

      April 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

      Thank you! It is indeed time to rethink how we do things.

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