Norm Thompson: Commerce With a Conscience
The tests showed no statistically significant difference in response between the recycled-content and virgin paper catalogs—great news for the project team. So all of the company’s catalogs were switched to recycled paper. Steve Jones, vice president of marketing, says the project is far from complete, however. “We’re testing higher levels of PCR [post-
consumer recycled] content; for example, we’re testing 20 percent PCR in our Early Winters catalog. And preliminary results are promising.”
In the meantime, Norm Thompson and the Alliance estimate the following environmental savings from the cataloger’s switch to recycled content:
* 4,400 fewer tons of wood consumed—the amount needed to produce a year’s worth of copy paper for 94,000 people.
* 20 billion BTUs of energy—saved enough to supply 190 households for a year;
* 11.7 million gallons of wastewater avoided—the annual discharges of 120 households.
And, says Smith, all of this was saved without burdening the cataloger with increased paper or printing costs. Nor did it relegate them to work with small specialty paper mills or printers. The recycled paper is bought from large mills such as International Paper, and the books are printed by Quebecor/World, the largest commercial printer in the world, and Quad Graphics.
The Product Mix
Another goal set early on was to replace products that include, for example, traditionally grown cotton, toxic chemicals and other environmentally suspect elements, with comparable, environmentally sound items. To meet that goal, Emrick and Jewett empowered their merchants (buyers) to search for alternative products.
Staff resistance was a bit heavier on this project than the paper program, Emrick admits. “Merchants told us, ‘I don’t have time to source environmentally friendly alternatives to my product mix,’” he recounts. “But we gently kept at them, until eventually they started looking for such products in the beginning of their search processes.”