The catalog industry is beating our forests to a pulp. Each year, North American mail order companies produce an estimated 17 billion catalogs (59 for every man, woman and child in the United States). Most are made with 100% virgin wood fiber taken from Canada’s boreal region or forests in the southeastern United States.
Environmental Defense, a national environmental group, says that if these purveyors of apparel, home furnishings and, yes, even outdoor products, used paper made with just 10% post-consumer recycled content, it would save approximately 1 million tons of trees annually. This very small and very doable act would help to protect endangered forests and the critical habitat they provide while each year conserving sufficient energy to power an estimated 48,000 households and reduce wastewater equivalent to that from 21,000 homes, solid waste equivalent to that from 88,000 homes, and greenhouse gases equivalent to 707 million car-miles. It would also greatly reduce air pollution and waterborne wastes.
Paper made with 10% post-consumer recycled content is readily available, competitively priced, prints as well as virgin stock, and receives no negative customer feedback on quality. So why isn’t everyone in the industry using it? Because most customers don’t ask for it.
Our catalogs are printed on paper made with 40% post-consumer recycled content and 60% virgin wood fiber. (The cover is printed on 50% post-consumer recycled content and made with wind power; the insert is 100% post-consumer recycled.) All catalog papers are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an international network dedicated to promoting environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. To reduce the environmental downsides of shipping, we buy our paper from mills located close to our printer.
We’ve used paper made from hemp, banana leaves, kenaf and similar fast-growing plants for other print materials. Unfortunately, they lack the uniformity and strength necessary for our catalogs. But printing on recycled-content paper is a no-brainer that furthers our mission to build the best product, to do no unnecessary harm and to use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.