Ah, December. Season of gifts, friends, family, and...catalogs. JC Penney broke the hearts of children everywhere last month when it discontinued its 1,000-page Big Book (due to increased reliance on Internet sales), but the move cut the company's catalog paper use by 30% annually. The Plano, Texas-based chain isn't the only company changing its mailbox-stuffing ways. According to ForestEthics' annual Holiday Catalog Environmental Scorecard, Timberland, Patagonia, REI, Macy's, and Crate & Barrel also deserve kudos for their "nice" efforts, while Sears and Neiman Marcus make this year's "naughty" list.
Timberland received praise for scrapping print catalogs altogether, Patagonia made the "nice" list for using loads of post-consumer recycled paper, and Crate & Barrel got the okay for using all FSC-certified paper. ForestEthics chided Sears for greenwashing, while Neiman Marcus didn't even bother to respond to the survey. They weren't alone: every company on the "naughty" list failed to complete the catalog survey--a telltale sign of wrongdoing.
Overall, this year's survey shows progress. A record 11 companies made the "nice" list--nearly four times the number that made the list in 2006. With that track record, we can expect at least some of the "naughty" companies to fess up to their catalog crimes next year. In the meantime, ForestEthics is sponsoring a campaign to create a national "Do Not Mail" registry--an initiative that has the support of 89% of Americans. So whether companies like it or not, print catalogs might be on their last legs.