Friday, December 14, 2007

Help, I’m Drowning

We’re drowning in catalogs at the Beale household. There’s a whiff of panic in this daily retail blitzkrieg: where in the past I may have received two or three catalogs from a particular retailer, now we’re getting dozens from each one.

This aggressive sales pitch can only mean one thing: sales are down and they’re getting really, really desperate.

Note to L.L. Bean, Eddie Bauer, Sierra Trading Post, J. Crew, Sahalie, etc. etc.: you do not need to send me 10 catalogs all with the same crap in them. And no, putting a new cover on it doesn’t convince me that what’s inside is any different than it was the last nine times you sent it to me. If I browsed through your catalog and didn’t feel inspired to buy anything the first time, I’m not going to change my mind now.

This is such a terrible waste of paper, time, money, and space in my mailbox. These days I go straight from the mailbox to the recycling bin and dump everything I don’t want so it doesn’t further clutter my already filled countertops.

The folks at Environmental Defense have some useful tips on decreasing catalog clutter. One of them is to “register with the Direct Marketing Association”--for a $1 fee. Now, why would I want to do that? Why would I want to pay to not receive something I never asked for? (I know, they say the nominal fee is to “cut down on fraud.” Bullshit.) And why do I get the feeling that giving these Direct Marketing people my name and address will only increase the likelihood of getting more crap I don’t want?

A better idea from Environmental Defense is Catalog Choice, a free service. After registering, you list the catalogs you no longer wish to receive, and they contact the company on your behalf. This may not stop you from getting anything new but it will cut down on what you’re currently getting.

I’ve written before about how offensive I find the daily assault of advertising on my life. The constant drum-beat of “buy buy buy buy BUY!” is destroying the fabric of our society. It trivializes what’s important, and has turned everything from religion to politics into a commodity that can be bought and sold.

I’m as much of a consumer as the next person. I like having nice things and I like having the latest gadget. I like to shop--who doesn’t? But these things need to be kept in proper perspective. It should not rule our lives.

Every journey begins with a single step. I’m going to start by eliminating these freaking catalogs from my life.