Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step


November 30, 2007

New Free Service to Eliminate Paper Catalogs

Category: Companies,Economics,Household,Tips – Tom Harrison – 7:42 pm

I heard about a new service today called Catalog Choice; it sounds like they do a similar thing as GreenDimes, which is another service to stop junk mail and catalogs. It’s an interesting problem, in a way: two companies doing about the same thing, one for a small fee, the other for free. Which one is better?

GreenDimes is working to make a business out of their efforts, charging a nominal annual fee — they do submit a DMA request (Catalog Choice makes you enter all the catalogs you want removed), that request costs some money and is a pain. GreenDimes also plants trees with your subscription. And I think they are using the money to branch out and do other good things. And they make a profit, or at least are trying to. Catalog Choice is free, and while this may benefit the consumer, and because it is free perhaps have more (un)subscribers. In the end, which is the larger benefit? Certainly, all other things being the same, most people would choose the free service. But is this the best thing for the planet?

It seems like companies that are doing good things should be allowed make a buck. TerraPass is an unabashed for-profit business. It’s hard to say how much money these guys are making, if any, but somehow the idea that doing something good should be a noble, selfless cause seems weak. Should the government put TerraPass out of business in one single shot by taxing our carbon emissions in order to subsidize alternative energy development? I think yes. I am in the minority, to say the least. Or maybe GreenDimes’ business model is just weak, being pretty easy to replicate and having no significant barriers to entry.

This might be the big question in the coming years. Can companies really cash in on the “green rush”? I hope so, because it’s not looking like our government is moving in any significant way to deal with the, um, rather significant potential issues associated with energy and global warming.

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