Recognizing Our Fundamental Flaw
Remember the article that appeared in the daily version of our newsletter a couple of weeks ago? Despite it being aggregated content, the piece managed to piss a lot of people off. It was written by a Patch editor in California…Patch is the AOL-backed effort to produce community Websites in about 17 states. Anyway, the writer lamented that she wanted to see the catalog go the way of the 8-track tape and the Yugo. (I think Patch would like to see newspapers join that list.)
One of the charges that the writer made—and it was really intended to be a light-hearted piece, not a scathing indictment of print—is that catalogs are not eco-friendly. Well, I’d had it by that point and flipped over my cubicle desk, sending pens, notepads, Diet Coke bottles and my Jesse Williamson figurines crashing to the floor. These brainless goofs who spout off about how we should consider the environment before printing something out, and wondering how many trees died in order to produce a so-and-so. (Answer: 25 so-and-sos equal one tree.)
And so I fired off an angry rant to the writer, Genevieve Suzuki, chastising her line of thinking and pointing out that the paper industry plants more f#&*! trees than all of the tree huggers in California combined. I railed at her about how paper is a renewable resource and the most recycled, that it is responsibly and scientifically harvested, and that acres of land aren’t clear cut to produce millions of copies of Hustler magazine. It is a mail list issue, not an affront to nature, when people receive catalogs they do not want.
But, after the nitroglycerin kicked in and all of my vitals returned to normal, something occurred to me: This perception of print and its impact on the environment is the printing industry’s fault. It’s the publishing industry’s fault. The mailers. The paper people. All of us! For shame! (Picture a finger-brushing-over-finger admonishing, if that helps.)