ForestEthics, a San Francisco-based environmental group focused on protecting forests, is hosting the "Victoria's Dirty Secret" event on Thursday, December 2nd, to kick off its new campaign to change the environmental practices of the catalog sales industry. Every year, catalog retailers send out about 17 billion catalogs, and essentially none of the paper used in the catalogs contains recycled content. Most of the trees used for catalog paper come from North American old growth forests, including Canadas Boreal forest, which is the second largest roadless area on the planet -- the size of 12 Californias laid side by side. The ForestEthics campaign focuses on Victoria's Secret, which is one of the largest catalog retailers around, and certainly the most visible.
What makes ForestEthics interesting is both their willingness to engage with pop culture (and a bit of culture jamming, as the photo in the event invitation -- excerpted here -- suggests) and their demonstrated success. In 2002, ForestEthics, in a campaign involving the band REM and over 600 demonstrations around the country, convinced office supply retailer Staples to adopt environmentally sound practices in its paper sales. As a result of the campaign, Staples agreed to use an average of 30% post-consumer recycled content in its paper products, phase out paper from endangered forests, and create an environmental affairs division. Other office supply retailers moved to match these moves, as Staples was able to use this decision as a competitive advantage.
The Victoria's Dirty Secret event promises "an evening of hors d’oeuvres, wine,
and tales of forests and fancy lingerie," and really, who could say no to that?
Damn, that's a *great* invite! Good catch, Jamais.