J.Crew Hates Trees And They're Using Your Mailbox To Prove It

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January 7, 2008

From October to February, I probably receive enough catalogs to paper all the walls of my apartment building. It seems like every week another J.Crew or Harry and David arrives. They start to breed and multiply. Soon I'm receiving catalogs for senior citizen apparel and luxury ski goods. (I don't know how to ski and am as afraid of puffy jackets as I am of heights.) 

I always scan them to see if the inventory has magically changed…but no, it hasn't. It's the same stuff in a different binding, kind of like Mexican food (which I belive is just 100 different ways to serve beans, rice, and cheese.) Apparently these companies believe the MTV generation's attention span means one catalog per season is just not enough. 

Not only is this phenomenon annoying, but it's not exactly environmentally friendly. According to catalogchoice.org, 19 billion catalogs are mailed every year at the cost of 53 million trees. I'd give you the full stats of how that relates to energy and carbon dioxide, but I fell asleep during "An Inconvenient Truth", so you can read them here. Basically, every time a Victoria's Secret Catalog Angel gets her wings, trees cry and say goodbye to a cousin. So, a new activist Web site called Catalog Choice offers a free service: Sign up and stop receiving paper catalogs you just don't want.

The organization claims you can reduce your junk mail while simultaneously helping the environment.Launched on October 9, C.C. says it has signed up 300,000-plus people, each of whom declined to receive an average of 12 catalogs. However, note the word "claim." Because when it contacted companies like L.L. Bean, Williams-Sonoma and Harry & David and asked them to take thousands of people off of their mailing lists, the retailers pretty much ignored the request.  What did they do? The Direct Marketing Association held a "catalog summit" on December 17, warning attendees about activist groups and advising them "not to encourage" the anti-paper people.  By encourage I assume they must mean to not mind the request.

So, how do you stop getting Victoria's Secret every four hours?  Well, you can adopt a teenage boy.  When my brother was younger I didn't even know we got Victoria's because the boy fished it out of the box with Nascar pit crew speed.  Otherwise, you have to pay $1. Yeah, you have to pay $1 to STOP lugging magazines you never wanted (or paid for) to the curb. The Direct Marketing Association has its own opt-out service – but it requires users to submit a credit card number to verify their identity and costs $1. 

Feel used? At least you're not a tree or a Victoria's Secret catalog in an adolescent boy's house.

Read the full Business Week article here

 



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