Intimate-apparel maker Victoria’s Secret, beloved by teenage boys everywhere, sends out more than a million catalogs a day. There’s a catalog for every season (because you can’t just wear pastels year round) and every sale (no matter the time of year, there are bras and panties half off).
And until recently, all those delicate underthings — and the angelic models making us all wish we had airbrushers of our very own — were gracing pages made entirely from virgin wood. (Not the kind you’re thinking of, perv.) Which is why treehuggers ForestEthics launched a major PR campaign to expose Victoria’s ‘Dirty’ Secret.
Fast-forward about two years to a victory announcement today, as Victoria’s Secret’s parent company, Limited Brands (which also includes Express, Bath & Body Works, and The Limited), commits to a number of tree-happy measures. In addition to upping post-consumer waste and Forest Stewardship Council content in their catalogs (including 80 percent PCW recycled content in their clearance mags), Limited Brands will eliminate all pulp supplied from Canada’s Great Boreal Forest, which contains 25 percent of the world’s remaining intact, roadless forest. Additionally, they’re reducing overall paper use, shifting some paper mills to FSC, and putting $1 million toward research and advocacy protecting endangered forests.
It’s a major win for ForestEthics (and tree-lovers everywhere), but they’ll be the first to tell you the fight’s not over. In 2004, the catalog industry mailed over 18 billion catalogs — 64 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S. And many of the major catalog sender-outers still don’t have environmental policies in place.
Taking a cue from ForestEthics, Grist elves have updated Santa’s list of naughty and nice catalog companies [PDF]. (As if the big guy doesn’t have enough to worry about, what with all the melting snowmen and endangered reindeer.)
Victoria’s Secret: Once hush-hush about environmental issues, this lingerie leader is baring all with a new commitment to use 10 percent recycled paper and stay away from logging areas threatening caribou herds.
Williams-Sonoma/Pottery Barn: What’s cookin’ with these home-ware hawkers? They’ve moved their catalogs and corporate HQs to recycled paper and announced just last week that more than 95 percent of their catalogs will be FSC-certified.
Dell: Dude, they’re getting a gold star. Even computer geeks can appreciate this tech company’s efforts to eliminate endangered forests from their wood and paper-product purchases. ForestEthics calls their policy the most progressive of the bunch.
Sears/Lands’ End: Forest fans are at their wits’ end when it comes to these major catalog cohorts (owned by the same company). They claim to have reduced paper use, but haven’t made commitments on sustainable-fiber use. Where’s that softer side, now?
Eddie Bauer: It’s Bauer beware for this outdoorsy outfitter. A little recycled paper does not an eco-policy make. The company has yet to come out with any sustainable solutions.
L.L. Bean: Although this Maine-based mail-order company has bean touting its environmental commitment to sustainable forest management and environmental protection, ForestEthics says there’s no evidence of enforcement. What the L?
J. Crew: This polo- and khaki-heavy clothier doesn’t have a J. Clue about good environmental policies. And so far, they’ve refused to set any guidelines for paper use.
For a more detailed list of catalogs, check out ForestEthics’ 2005 Nice & Naughty List [PDF].