With the holidays around the corner and the bustle of retailers sending out their holiday gift catalogs, it seems a good time to address a couple of topics that may be on the mind of many consumers this season: paper waste and recycling. I was watching a video at WSJ.com (watch video here) titled Despite Web and Mobile, The Print Catalog Persists. In this video segment, the show host (unnamed) states to catalog expert Elizabeth Holmes that she feels bad for all the trees when she receives catalogs at home.
Regardless of the fact that research shows that catalogs are an effective marketing tool that almost always yields a high ROI and boosts the economy, the statement that catalogs are “destroying all those trees” is a statement I have read countless times online and heard more times from people I know than I care to admit. Most of the time, I bite my lip. What I really want to do is ask them how many paper towels they use a day, how much wrapping paper they buy at Christmas time, how many cards they send out in how many envelopes? Or, how many items do they order online that come in how many boxes packed with how much paper? The truth is that the people that make this statement about paper waste are often times the same people who are throwing recyclable paper away. “Isn’t it too bad? All those poor wasted trees,” ca-plunk. Here are two facts to consider:
- Statistics are showing that these catalogs are being looked at before being thrown out
- Those complaining about deforestation and wasted trees are very often the same individuals who are throwing away their direct mail in to the trash bin instead of the recycle bin. Geesh, no wonder they feel bad.
Being environmentally conscious is good, don’t get me wrong. However, it is important to know your facts before expending what will become wasted efforts on problems that, well, aren’t really problems at all. Many of you may remember a white paper we published last year A Look at Print & Digital Waste. In this white paper we examine the harmful effects of both digital waste and print waste. We explain that “While there is no denying that paper is made out of trees, there are multiple regulations (that are monitored by multiple organizations) for the use of trees for papermaking.”
Yes it’s true, paper comes from trees. But that does not necessarily mean that printers and retailers are destroying forests. In fact, our forests have been healthier in the last 100 years than they had in prior decades before. For every tree that is used to make paper, countless more are planted (for more information about this visit The State of America’s Forests – Society of American Foresters).
An overview on catalog and recycling at ecolife.com shows that although the recycling of paper waste in the USA is fairly high overall, the rate for recycling catalogs and magazines is only about 20%. Besides creating jobs, boosting consumer sales, and contributing to the economy, there are many more uses for these catalogs. Ecolife explains that, although, the waste fibers of glossy paper are not strong enough to be recycled into new magazines, the paper is “shredded and mixed up with water to create pulp… like the regular paper making process, the pulp is washed and cleaned, refined, and blended into a slushy mess” and then “used to make facial tissue, paperboard, newspaper, and writing paper.”
If you use toilet paper, paper towels, or buy packaged goods in the store, you are buying the reminisce of those recycled pages. But, if the pieces are not recycled, then they are not reused, and, that’s where the cycle ends. As consumers, we too have a responsibility not only to the environment, but to the economy as well. This holiday season; consider giving back by recycling all those gift catalogs. For more information on how to better recycle your catalogs, feel free to contact The Dingley Press.