Organize a Catalog Canceling Challenge and Cut Out Unnecessary Catalogs

I don’t think I’m alone in being really annoyed at the amount of senseless waste we generate in our country – and a potent reminder of that waste is a mailbox stuffed full of catalogs and junk mail on a daily basis. It really adds up to a lot of wasted energy, paper, and time.

For example, did you know that in the U.S. alone, over 19 billion catalogs are mailed per year?

Altogether, they use up:

  • 53 million trees (the equivalent of clear-cutting 2,000 Central Parks)
  • 53 billion gallons of water (enough to fill 81,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools)
  • enough energy to supply 1.2 million homes annually (38 billion BTUs), thus causing…
  • CO2 emissions equal to 2 million cars annually (5.2 million tons of CO2)
  • the industry’s own research shows that less than 2% of the catalogs received in this country actually result in a purchase – 98% of catalogs are unused
  • 95% of those catalogs are made from virgin forests (i.e., with no recycled paper content), at great ecological costs to our atmosphere, biodiversity, water, rare forests, landfills and incinerators.

(via NRDC)

One teacher is making a difference in this with the Catalog Canceling Challenge. His name is Ted Wells, and he’s a 4th grade teacher at The Park School in Brookline, MA.

“We’re saving trees, water, energy, and our climate by canceling unwanted sales catalogs.”

So far, over 41,000 catalogs have been canceled by 6,750 kids through the Challenge, and they’re aiming for 100,000 canceled catalogs.

That’s pretty awesome. Because the true stakeholders in the environmental issues facing us are ultimately the kids. Our kids.

We might be able to bumble through our lives with enough natural resources to be as wasteful as we want, but they sure won’t. The poo-poo will hit the proverbial fan before they get too old, and they are gonna have to be the ones to deal with it.

I think that an important part of fatherhood is preparing and providing for our kids for the future, and by being mindful of the consequences of our actions (even especially long-term consequences), we can help teach them to take care of their inheritance, this spaceship Earth, specially because I have heard some pretty inappropriate uses of inheritance before, when this happens the best is always to check where you can get some help. We’re not going to get any emergency relief supplies from the next planet over, so we need to use our resources wisely.

One way to help this happen is through campaigns like this one. Organize a Catalog Canceling Challenge at your kid’s school with Ted’s easy-to-follow 9 Step Plan.

Students who cancel 60 catalogs personally can join the ONE TREE CLUB and they’ll send them the patch seen in this post.

Even if you don’t organize a challenge, at least go through the motions and opt out for your own catalog/mailing subscriptions. Do you really need that catalog? You can find it all on the internet anyway…

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

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