I’m not one of those people who squawk “I use my junk mail as a weed barrier in my garden!” but I did, finally, come up with a use for the stuff, otherwise known as mess sitting in a pile on the table. I hate junk mail with a passion. It’s messy, it’s a waste of resources, and it has a really low margin of success: something like 1 or 3%. It’s inefficient.
Here at my house, junk mail usually falls into one of a few categories:
- Grocery store circulars – the only mildly useful junk mail we get. At least I can check the weekly sales on canned goods and stew beef.
- Furniture store circulars – do people really buy this stuff? It’s particle board and veneer, all for the low low price of empty your wallet. Nasty.
- Credit card pre-approvals/applications – goes straight in the shred pile, do not pass go, do not tempt identity thieves.
- Pleas for donations – usually Catholic organizations that haven’t figured out yet that the former owner of the house is dead, despite my constant stream of scrawled RTS – DECEASED on their envelopes.
- Depending on the time of year, various political flyers, blood drive notices, and school tax newsletters.
I don’t usually count the local restaurant flyers as junk mail because they’re too cheap to actually mail the things. Instead, they slyly stuff the horribly photocopied sheets behind the mailbox lid, into the mailbox (federal offense, that) or tape the thing to the mailbox itself.
It’s a constant battle to keep up with the mess, so I make no apologies for having a rotating pile of the stuff on the table. Every few days we blow through the pile and deal with it.
So, getting to the usefulness part: I wanted color in this image. It’s abstract, and it had great potential for doing something really cool with the metal reflections. After rummaging through the pile of junk mail I picked up two random, brightly colored sheets of something or other and started waving them in front of my subject. The neighbors probably think I’m nuts (they do anyway, especially when I’m printing cyanotypes) but I got my abstract in color.
Moral of this story – sometimes having a messy pile of junk mail on your table isn’t a bad thing. At least, that’s what I’m trying to convince myself to think.