Catalog Companies Are Selling Nature Short This Holiday Season

Think your catalogs are printed on recycled paper? Think again. How about companies like L.L. Bean and Orvis that cater to nature enthusiasts? Nope. As the holiday season approaches, consumers will receive a massive amount of catalogs. Last year, 17 billion catalogs were mailed to consumers; approximately 59 catalogs for every man, woman and child in the U.S. A report issued today by Environmental Defense, Does Your Catalog Care?, reveals that catalog companies are still overwhelmingly choosing virgin over recycled paper.

"Many of these companies use images of nature to sell their products, while selling nature short in their paper choices," said Victoria Mills, project manager at Environmental Defense. "Shoppers might be surprised to learn that their favorite catalogs are not printed on recycled paper."

The report, available at, asks consumers to call catalog companies and ask them to use recycled paper. According to the report, if the entire catalog industry switched to paper with just 10% postconsumer recycled content, the savings in wood use alone would be enough to stretch a six-foot fence across the United States seven times.

"Study after study has shown that consumers care deeply about the environment, and that they expect companies to be part of the solution to environmental problems," said Mills. "By choosing recycled paper, catalog companies can reduce their burden on the environment and honor their customers' expectations."

According to the report, recycled paper is widely available, competitively priced, and offers comparable performance to virgin alternatives.

Seventy-four different catalogs were surveyed for the report, including J.C. Penney, Bloomingdale's by Mail, Spiegel, Eddie Bauer, Lands' End, L.L. Bean, Victoria's Secret, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, and J. Crew. Of the companies surveyed, only Norm Thompson Outfitters, Omaha Steaks, and Disney reported using recycled paper throughout the body of their catalogs. Norm Thompson Outfitters partnered with Environmental Defense to make the switch from virgin to recycled paper in 2001.

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