Your mail and the environment: Simple steps to helping the planet The direct mail community actively supports environmental protection in many ways, including those programs that promote recycling, tree replanting, solid waste management, and environmental education. The following are some easy tips that will help you participate in environmental protection.
10 Easy Ways You Can Help Protect the Planet
Shop by Mail: "The Greatest Car Pool on Earth"
Shopping from home and work through catalogs and other forms of direct mail saves gasoline and cuts pollution. In 1995, more than 131 million Americans shopped by mail and phone, helping to reduce auto emissions and gasoline usage. (Simmons Market Research Bureau, 1996).
Support Recycling in Your Hometown
Towns and cities in many parts of the U.S. are collecting catalogs, direct mail and other "mixed papers" in waste-reducing recycling programs. Contact the new nationwide Environmental Hotline, sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Postal Service by calling 1 (800) CLEAN-UP, or online at www.1800cleanup.org. If your town recycles, join the effort! If it doesn't, urge your community leaders to contact the American Forest & Paper Association's "PaperMatcher Program" at 1 (800) 878-8878). They'll help locate paper mills and recycling facilities in your home state that accept specific types of discarded paper.
Share Your Magazines and Catalogs
Find creative ways for others to enjoy the magazines and catalogs that you've already read. Donate them to hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices for use in waiting rooms, schools for use in art projects, and to retirement communities for reading and easy shopping. If you live in an apartment building, set up a system for tenants to share catalogs and magazines. Or set up a shopping-by-mail library in your office lunchroom so many people can use and reuse the same catalogs.
Reuse and Recycle Packing Materials
Since 1991, the Plastic Loose Fill Council has sponsored a nationwide recycling program to collect used small loose-fill polystyrene packing materials (called "peanuts"). Through the program, consumers can drop off "peanuts" at more than 3,900 Mail Boxes Etc. stores, other retail locations, and recycling centers. More than 200 catalog and direct mailers also provide package inserts to their customers to alert them to the program. To find the location nearest you call 1 (800) 828-2214. Also, save packing materials for reuse when shipping gifts and other packages. Or give them to friends or colleagues who are moving to new homes or who ship packages from work.
Support "Green" Businesses
Many catalogers and other companies are leading the way toward environmentally sound business practices. JCPenney, Orvis, Lands' End, Real Goods, Fingerhut, National Wildlife Federation, Seventh Generation, and others, for example, print portions or all of their catalogs on paper made with recycled content. The Body Shop, a national cataloger and retailer, rewards customers for returning product containers for refilling and recycling. Catalog company Hanna Andersson sends gift orders in an attractive gift box made completely of recycled cardboard and paper. Look for environmental messages and other socially responsible program descriptions in the catalogs you receive.
How Environmentally Sound Is Your Company?
Does the company you work for use direct mail or direct marketing? Want to find out more about how you can make your business or workplace more environmentally sound? Contact The Direct Marketing Association for a copy of The DMA Corporate Environmental Stewardship Challenge, a voluntary tool that helps companies and not-for-profit organizations develop environmentally sound business practices. All 3,500 DMA member companies have received the Challenge, and many of the suggestions in the Challenge's Checklist can help your business protect the environment, too. To order a copy for your business, call (212) 790-1525.
Support Tree Planting
The American Forest & Paper Association reports that self-sustaining forestry techniques in North America ensure that cut trees are replaced. You can help the effort by supporting companies that contribute to tree replanting programs. The Fingerhut Corporation, a consumer goods cataloger based in Minnesota, for example, has its own corporate forest. Woodworker's Supply helps to replant trees along New Mexico's Highway 66, and clothier Eddie Bauer works closely with Global ReLeaf.
Streamline Your Mail
You may enjoy shopping by mail but prefer to receive less advertising in your mailbox. The Direct Marketing Association encourages consumers to contact catalog companies from which they shop and request that they not share their names and addresses with other marketers. For a list of catalog companies that offer this option, order The DMA's Great Catalog Guide by sending a $3.00 check to:
Great Catalog Guide, c/o DMA
1111 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036-3603
You can also contact The DMA's free Mail Preference Service, which can remove consumers' names from most national catalog and other direct mailing lists, by writing
DMA Mail Preference Service
Carmel, NY 10512
Buy Environmentally Sound Products
Many companies now sell products that are environmentally sound for use in home and office. Catalogers, for example, offer items such as sturdy canvas shopping bags, natural lawn care products, rechargeable batteries, and toilet dams to reduce water waste. Call your favorite catalog companies and local retailers to find out more about products that will help you protect the environment, or look for them in your mailbox.
Support Environmental Not-for-Profit Organizations
Be receptive to mailings you receive from not-for-profit environmental organizations. They recognize direct mail as a responsible tool for raising funds, and most obtain up to 80-percent or more of their funding through direct mail solicitations.
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