For some reason, I've always taken a kind of ironic comfort in the famous quotation "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Although I recently learned that it's a paraphrase of a famous quote from Herodotus, I always thought that it came from Shakespeare, and I used to imagine a dedicated Elizabethan mailman, clad in breeches, stiff collar, and cloak, riding a horse in a rainstorm to get the mail through.
This, of course, stood in opposition to my mailman in Virginia, who wouldn't bother to drop off the mail if there was snow near my mailbox or if it was too muddy outside. When I moved to New York, mail service got even worse; my mail carrier canceled many of my magazines because he didn't like carting them around. In fact, I had to get a post office box just to ensure that I received my most important mail.
Of course, part of my mailman problems might be my own fault: I, like many people, have caught the evil eye of dozens of catalog lists and direct-marketing campaigners. Although my junk mail problem got a lot smaller when I moved, I still get all sorts of catalogs that I don't want and credit card offers that I don't need. Come to think of it, it's no wonder that my mailman seems to feel a little overworked!
I recently found out about Green Dimes. For a $20 subscription fee, they will plant five trees. They will then give you a list of the catalogs that you receive. You choose the catalogs that you don't want any more, after which Green Dimes will cancel your subscriptions and plant another tree for every catalog that you get rid of. They will then monitor mailing lists and notify you if you are signed up for any new catalogs. You can renew your subscription every year for only $10.
According to Green Dimes, since they launched in September 2006, they have planted over a million trees and stopped over four million pounds of junk mail. One of the nicest things is that they work with existing green groups, including American Forests, Sustainable Harvest, and Trees for the Future to maximize the impact of their work. So, if you're looking for a good way to clean out your mailbox or reduce your office's mail load, you might want to take a peek at Green Dimes. Your mailman will thank you!
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. And, yes, he's called the Post Office to rat out the mailman.