The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Environmentalists should be aware of their own habits

In the past few weeks I’ve experienced an explosion in my mailbox. I get shiny pamphlets from the Lupus Foundation, tacky address labels from the Lion’s Club, colorful cards from the World Wildlife Foundation and car decals from the Sierra Club.

I recognize that as non-profits, most of these organizations are in dire need of donations, but I can’t see why the bulk of paper mailings are so necessary.

Yesterday, I received a fat letter from the Sierra Club, touting how my donation of just $15 could help save the environment. I couldn’t help but chuckle when I realized that just that one mailing contained at least 15 sheets of paper. Wouldn’t you think that an organization trying to preserve environmental ecology would try to reduce the bulk of its paper production?

Granted, some of the pieces said “post-consumer recycled,” but isn’t it sort of painfully ironic that about 90% of those mailings would just be trashed by weary consumers? I mean, really, the card stock of fuzzy polar bears crossing a glacier at sunset is beautiful, but how does its inclusion prompt me to send money?

The heart of marketing is repetition, but there really doesn’t seem to be a need for seven different glossy papers reminding me why my “generous gift” could help save the world. As college students, most of us are painfully aware that the mass American population is not so bright. Is that why these companies have to write the same slogan or paragraph 25 different times?

By the time I finished sifting through the mailing, I felt like I could have pitched its content. Out of pity, I stuck the card stock on my refrigerator. Now, maybe every time I reach for the ice cubes I will think of the Sierra Club. But that’s what they want, right?

Even as I carried all of the leaflets to my recycling bin, I was reminded that just $15 would get me the “exclusive” commemorative Sierra Club rucksack and a bi-monthly magazine subscription. I’m still on the fence about if I want to join the Sierra Club. I could save polar bears and get a moldy-brown colored backpack. What’s not to love?!

My sarcastic musing is beyond the point. The point is that if these organizations are really trying to contribute to ecological preservation and conservation, what’s with the mass mailings of tons of paper? Even the World Wildlife Foundation deserves a pointed finger.

As a faithful member, I respect almost everything about their contributions to endangered species and habitats around the world. I even pledge money on Earth Day to raise awareness about global warming. However, the commemorative Indonesian Sea Turtle note cards, gorilla address labels and rhinoceros calendar strips were a little excessive.

I like to imagine my membership dues going straight to starving ecologists camped out in a field somewhere. I picture their bank account as a big dusty mason jar, filled with a few crumpled dollar bills. They open my envelope with gleeful excitement, and as they hold up my check, a scientist says “Look! Now we can continue our work on the Congo Bonobo refuge!”

Realistically, I know that this idealized vision of a worldwide foundation is dim-wittedly na’ve. My membership dues are an infinitesimal drop in a massive splash, and sadly, probably helped pay for only one sheet of the personalized address labels I so grudgingly received.

I just can’t rationalize the point of a conservationist green-based foundation that puts out such a bulk of mail. The sad thing is that nine times out of 10, those fancy labels you get have your name spelled wrong anyway. So what happens then to the thousands of address labels that will never even be used?

We all know from first hand experience that the vast majority of consumers do not recycle paper. This is especially true when it comes to mail, as it raises concerns of identity theft. Many people in the Los Angeles County apartment buildings don’t have recycling bins on site, so this makes throwing things out even more viable.

With all of this in mind, you have to step back and question the practices at hand. There’s a website that allows you to opt-out of junk mail, specifically credit card offers, but how can you cross your name off of a list of charitable non-profit organizations that want and need your dedication and cash?

Ever since I’ve moved into a house, I’ve become a die-hard recycler. My cans go in a bag, my newspapers, old papers and safe junk mail go into a crate. I can’t help but shake my head when I peer into the mountain of mail that has accumulated. How sad that the majority of this excess is created by remnants of a charitable marketing campaign that failed to convince.

Even worse, it’s a physical paper trail of organizations that are in place specifically to help save our environment. I’m happy to contribute what little money I can to trustful organizations with good intent, but I just can’t support hypocrisy.

Maybe next time I get one of those gargantuan mailings, I’ll send them a letter on my spiffy new note cards, and stick one of my misspelled address labels on the envelope. To reduce bulk, my letter will say just one thing – “but what about the trees?”

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