Based in Toronto and New York City

, Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sustainable agriculture, food, sake, arts and culture.

Cutting Down on Catalogs

Problem: A mailbox overflowing with junk mail and catalogs.

Solution: CatalogChoice's site, catalogchoice.org, is a free service with close to 1,000 catalogs on file that you can opt out of with one click once you register. Another free service is www.proquo.com, which stops direct-marketing mail and will walk you through the process of printing out PDF letters to mail to credit and insurance agencies to stop credit-card and insurance offers. For a fee, www.41pounds.org (named for the amount of junk mail the average adult gets in a year) will contact direct marketing and other agencies to get you off lists for credit-card and magazine offers, coupon mailers, sweepstakes entries and insurance promotions, as well as stop catalogs you specify; $41 for five years, includes a $15 donation to a nonprofit group. For $19.95 a year, www.stopthejunkmail.com provides a similar service. The consumer credit-reporting industry's Web site, www.OptOutPrescreen.com, allows you to eliminate mailed credit-card and insurance offers. If you're a DIY person, go to the site for Privacy Rights Clearinghouse (www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs4-junk.htm) for directions on getting off mail lists.

Caveats: It could take from two to four months for your requests to be processed. ProQuo makes money by selling your name to catalogs you do want to get, and the list of catalogs that you can opt in or out of is limited at this point.

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