Try a Magazine/Catalog Cleanse!

By Ginny Ades, ESA Board President

Before the Cleanse

Returning home from a mud season get-away is always bittersweet; it’s great to be home in Evergreen but there are always some unwelcome tasks to catch up on. This year, I was shocked by the number of magazines and catalogs that had gathered at our house during our two-month absence. Hadn’t I conscientiously cancelled all these subscriptions and catalog mailings just a couple years ago? Well, yes, I had, but they have a way of creeping back into the mailbox!

So, one snowy day this spring (mud season lingered long after our return), I decided to tackle the pile of mail as well as a pile of other magazines we’d been hoarding. I wanted to see how well I could do with re-purposing and re-refusing what I’d collected. I could have dumped the entire stack in the recycle bin, but that, I felt, would be a waste of precious resources. Many of these catalogs hadn’t even been used! Ashamed and embarrassed at the waste, I wanted to do as right as possible by the trees used for these products. The more times we can reuse or re-purpose an item, the less impact we will have on depleting natural resources and causing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

I began with a stack of magazines and catalogs about 18” tall. The stack included some glossy Architectural Digests, some informative 5280 magazines, a couple National Geographics and other magazines, a huge Restoration Hardware catalog, a Dex phone directory, and many miscellaneous catalogs. Thinking of the mantra Refuse, Reuse, Recycle, I began at the beginning with Refuse.

Refuse. While it was too late to refuse the catalogs I’d already received, I got on-line and visited the website for each company from which I’d received a catalog. I cancelled 10 catalogs. Some websites made it easier than others to cancel, and, two months later, I am still receiving some of the catalogs I cancelled. Sundance, Frontgate and Garnet Hill persist in sending me catalogs and I will persist in asking them to stop sending them! However, seven others have ceased to fill my mailbox, and that is some progress. I can easily find them all on the Internet and they keep in touch with me via e-mail. No lost business for them.

Reuse. The Architectural Digests are full of beautiful pages and inspiration. And the 5280 magazines include lots of great information about Colorado. I knew somebody out there would enjoy reading these, so I called the Evergreen Library to see if they could take them. I learned that the library does generally take used magazines but that they couldn’t during COVID. I was told they hope to begin again by the end of summer 2021. They suggested I try Elk Run Assisted Living, which I did, and they were pleased to take my Architectural Digests and 5280 magazines. I immediately drove over (only one mile from my house) with them so their residents could enjoy them on the snowed-in day we were having. Feeling lighter, I returned home and confronted the remaining stack of catalogs and the few remaining magazines. I selected a few of the remaining colorful magazines to add to my craft supplies for making wrapping paper, greeting cards, and other projects. I thought it would be great to also offer these to preschools, art classes and the Center for the Arts Evergreen, but, with COVID, that would have to wait for a few months.

Finally, Recycle. Now left with a diminishing stack of mostly newsprint quality catalogs, I took a deep breath and put them in the recycle bin. That thick DEX phone directory, which routinely appears uninvited to our mailbox, was a tough one to add to the bin. While this one ended up in recycling, I did find the phone number to call to stop delivery of the directory—it’s 1.877.243.8339. I had to wait a few days to contact them since they are only open on week days but I was able to ask to be deleted from their deliveries. In so doing, I hope to move this item from my Recycle category to my Refuse category for a better showing on my next post-vacation mail cleanse.

Pile left to recycle after cleanse