If you're like me, you are wincing in an environmental pain at the arrival of multiple catalogs. Perhaps you have also registered with Catalog Choice or a similar web site with its one-stop service to opt out of receiving some of the most common and most persistent mail-order assaults.
I finally got around to registering with Catalog Choice about two weeks ago. However, its noble mission is not without its obstacles. My first disappointment: it takes about twelve weeks for a cancellation to take effect. By then, the holiday shopping season will be long over. The other: many of the companies in the Catalog Choice directory have not responded to the service's requests to process their users' cancellation orders. In most cases, users are instructed to contact the company directly.
I hope that these issues can be resolved, and that opting out of receiving catalogs can be as simple as putting oneself on a "do not call" list. I believe that consumers will have a favorable opinion of retailers who participate in such a program.
Not all companies' practices are the same. I am not in the habit of ordering seeds from catalogs, so (to stick to the gardening theme of this blog) I wondered how often they were delivered to regular customers. My friend Kim, who receives Pinetree as well as others, reported that seed catalogs arrive "once a year, with some exceptions," and that bulb catalogs are delivered twice, before both spring and fall plantings. I usually buy seeds from stores and nurseries, but I recollect receiving a White Flower Farm (which deals mostly with perennials) catalog only once a year, in time to prepared for spring planting. And then there's Fedco's, with its long tradition of thoughtful descriptions and carefully cultivated products.
Let's face it; many of us lead busy lives and rely on catalog and online purchases to fulfill holiday expectations. However, most of us need not go far to shop locally and support businesses that add life to our communities. And I bet those retailers won't barrage us with catalogs, either.