With holiday shopping in full swing, some major brands have made
announcements that they’re embracing the environmental cause and
that paper used in catalogs will come from environmentally friendly,
sustainably harvested sources.
In late November, Williams-Sonoma announced
that it will begin sourcing more than 90 percent of the paper used in
the company’s seven catalogs (Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Pottery
Barn Bed and Bath, Pottery Barn Kids, PBteen, west elm and
Williams-Sonoma Home) from sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Just this week, Limited Brands (parent company of Victoria’s Secret,
Express, Bath & Body Works, and The Limited) signed a new forest policy
that says it will no longer work with suppliers who source from the
Rocky Mountain Foothills near Hinton, Alberta, and will no longer use
suppliers who source paper from caribou habitat in Canada unless it has
been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (via Grist). Victoria’s Secret alone sends out more than 1 million catalogs per day.
What’s not clear is what these green overtures will mean to consumers. In August, sixty-four percent of respondents in a study
by Landor Associates couldn’t name a green brand. Even worse, Fifty-one
percent who claimed to be in the green camp couldn’t point to one.
What is clear is that ForestEthics and its campaign against
the catalog industry are working. It was two years ago that the group
launched the campaign against Victoria’s Secret.
Don’t expect ForestEthics to rest on its laurels with this win. Its Christmas-themed naughty and nice list
from last year points to a few companies, such as Dell, Williams
Sonoma, and Norm Thompson Outfitters, that are in the green camp. But more than 15 big brands like Sears, J.Crew, and Eddie Bauer are not.
ForestEthics list states: “J. Crew just doesn’t care. Their catalogs
come straight from Endangered Forests, leaving behind ruined homes for
the reindeer (caribou), bears, and people too! Nothing but coal for
naughty J. Crew.”
As that kind of messaging heats up, other catalog companies will
most likely follow Victoria’s lead, the Financial Post reports (via
ForestEthics). The Victoria’s Secret announcement “creates a precedent
that can be quite dangerous to the industry,” Ilan Vertinsky, director
of the forest economics and policy analysis research unit at the
University of British Columbia said. “It doesn’t take a large group or
a very powerful group to create enough disturbance to a buyer that the buyer is going to have the incentive to switch.”