The U.S. catalog industry last year produced 17 billion catalogs, or 64 for each American, and used 3.35 million tons of paper, more than 12 percent of all the printing and writing paper produced in the country, according to a study by the Alliance for Environmental Innovation, an initiative of the Environmental Defense Fund and Pew Charitable Trust. The study examined 10 catalog companies that produce 42 titles, including J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, and Spiegel, and found that only one company, L.L. Bean, is using recycled paper — and that’s only for its order forms. The Internet is actually increasing the number of catalogs because companies use their websites to expand mailing lists. The alliance urged companies to use more recycled and lightweight paper, let customers specify how many catalogs they want, do more business online, and use eco-friendly pulping and bleaching processes. On the other hand, a report released by the U.S. Postal Service in July argued that catalogs help the environment by keeping people out of their cars, thus cutting 66,000 tons of air pollution and saving 97 million gallons of gasoline.

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