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Hints from Heloise: Put end to catalogs, save trees

Dear Heloise: I used to receive tons of unsolicited catalogs each week. I decided to be proactive in not only unclogging my mailbox each day, but also in saving trees. On each day that I received a catalog, I would get on that company's Web site, then click either "customer service" or "contact us" and send a brief e-mail, something like this: "Please remove my name/address from your catalog mailing list, and do not give/sell my information to any other companies." I usually included the catalog code or account number if there was one on the mailing label.

I no longer get many catalogs at all. Sometimes it does take two to three months for the catalogs to stop, but the effort I initially put into this has been worth every second of my time. I encourage all people to do this; it truly will help our environment. — Kris Perry, via e-mail

Kris, good for you!

Several companies we checked with said catalogs are pre-addressed from the beginning of the prior month, so you probably could receive one to two more after you ask them to stop.

And if you don't have access to a computer, there is usually an 800 number listed that you can call to request to be taken off of the mailing list.

Also, The Direct Marketing Association has great programs to help remove your address and phone number from marketing lists. Go to www.the-dma.org, or mail your request with your name (first, last, middle initial, etc.) and complete address on a postcard or letter, sign it, then send it to: DMA Mail Preference Service, Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: Regarding your "another tax helper" hint, published in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, recommending the use of color-coding in your checkbook: I'm a CPA and usually make copies of my clients' financial information for my files and send the originals home with them. Colored ink doesn't copy well on our black-and-white copy machine. Instead, a specific shape or mark in black or blue ink (double check mark, open circle or circled "X") beside an entry to designate charitable contributions, business expenses, etc., will copy nicely. — Mary Lee R., via e-mail

Thanks for the good tax advice! There are many forms that request black ink, and some light-blue inks might not copy or scan well. Read the fine print, or try to use black if this might be the case. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I save everything, and before giving it to recycling, I contact the local YMCA and early childhood classes to see if they can use any of it for their many craft projects. Here are some of the items they have been able to use: empty egg cartons, empty gallon water jugs, cardboard rolls from toilet paper and paper towels and old greeting-card fronts. I also give them all of our empty pill containers (after removing the labels — Heloise) of every size, which they use to make many useful items. They are very happy to receive these things! — Gloria Sherman, Springfield, N.J.


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