Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Catalogues are going out of fashion

The days of paper catalogues may be numbered. Many companies are deciding to cease this paper-wasting form of advertising, recognising that online stores grow ever more popular and can be kept bang up to date. Many consumers prefer to shop online, because it's quicker and easier than post or because they want to use less paper (and if you haven't made your pledge to use less paper on the Shrink website, now is the perfect moment).

Earlier this spring, Canadian Tire announced it would cease printing the 6 million catalogues it has sent out every season for as long as anyone can remember. Its share price rose at the news, reflecting the fact that this is a sound business move.

More recently, Harper Collins has made the same decision, arguing that going virtual made both economic and environmental sense. The company's President Jane Friedman described paper catalogues in an interview, as 'such a waste of paper and so inefficient.'

Will this inspire the producer of the Argos catalogue, the Home Retail Group, which single-handedly consumes 1% of the paper used in the UK? The company estimates its carbon emissions as 217,000 tonnes per year, but that doesn't seem to include their paper consumption; even a conservative estimate of the carbon footprint caused by its consumption of 118,000 tonnes of paper would triple that figure.

The pressure is growing on Sears to stop unsustainable sourcing of paper for the 425 million catalogues it churns out each year. Surely it too should think about cutting its print run?

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