Junk mail hater vs. junk mail participator
In the recent New York Times article about GreenDimes (the for-profit company on a crusade to stop junk mail), the founder Pankaj Shah uses a wide generality to attempt to make a point. Saying that “nobody” likes junk mail is a bit far fetched. I like it – if it’s targeted to me and it pertains to me. I have discovered products and services that have been beneficial to me that I otherwise would not have found out about.
The founder of GreenDimes’ logic tends to stir up emotions rather than giving all the facts. If his company was a non-profit it may seem like a sincere crusade. But what’s his real motivation? How does his business eventually put itself out of business? It doesn’t seem like it would because even after someone signs up, GreenDimes would continue to collect a monthly fee.
No doubt there are earth statistics that are scary. According to the Taipei Times, there is a loss of 14.6 million hectares (hectare is a metric land measurement and equals 2.47 acres) of forests every year – an area almost four times the area of Switzerland. Save America’s Forests in Washington D.C. states that 95% of America’s original forests were logged during the past 200 years, citing the U.S. Forest Service clearcutting down millions of acres of National Forests and selling off the logs to international timber corporations.
Irresponsible forest management, enhanced by poor governmental regulation and enforcement, and markets that reward illegal logging should be investigated and made accountable.
But trees are planted and grown specifically to make paper. Most trees used for paper come from forests called managed timberlands. They are agricultural crops – like vegetables on a farm. The trees are grown to be made into products for human use. Many forests might not exist in the first place if trees weren’t planted and harvested by this industry.
More trees are planted every year than are cut down. This is due in most part to the success of managed timberlands. Whenever trees are harvested, more trees are planted to take their place. More trees are destroyed by fire and insects than are cut down to make paper. And, on an average, when a tree is harvested for making paper, five more are planted in its place.
One of the reasons for recycling is to save landfill space. Paper is one of the few consumer products that is fairly easy and inexpensive to recycle. It can be made into many new products including corrugated boxes, packaging, newsprint, tissue, and writing paper, among other things. Using an average of 700 pounds of paper products per year per person, paper makes up almost a third of the material which goes into landfills. An old newspaper recycled in the U.S. can end up as part of a box made in Africa – quite a wise use of a tree! In the U.S., more paper is recycled than is sent to landfills, and more paper is recovered for recycling than all glass, aluminum, and plastics combined.
Tree usage in US:
49% Lumber and plywood (for building and construction)
28% Pulpwood (most of it for paper)
23% Wood for fuel, cleaning agents, turpentine, etc.
The US Forest Service archives show that in 1920 there were 732 million acres of US forest land. So according to 2003 figures, we actually have 16 million more acres of forest land than we did in 1920.
Experts like Patrick Moore of greenspirit.com detail more proven facts about our tree consumption.
Businesses need to be more responsible with whom they mail to. The road to success with direct mail would include careful selection of one’s mailing list. With that in mind, ‘junk mail’ would virtually fall by the wayside. The recent Do-Not-Mail bills attempting to thwart businesses and direct mailers from reaching out to potential customers is, in some expert’s opinions, the main reason why targeted lists are so vital in the fight to cut out junk mail.
Ten states have recently introduced Do-Not-Mail bills in their state legislatures indicating that consumers are fed up with junk mail. If these bills are passed, a company wanting to send un-requested mail to consumers would need to buy an updated copy of the state’s Do-Not-Mail list and check it against their own mailing lists – adding unwanted workload to businesses that will curtail productivity in response to government red tape. This in turn will have a severe negative impact on a state’s economic development.
‘Junk mail’ is mail that is not directed to a specifically targeted mailing list. Consumers do not mind receiving mail promoting products and services they need – that is ‘direct mail’â€¦there is a difference. But who’s to say that when a new fitness center opens in town and that gym blankets the area to inform the entire neighborhood (not targeted to specific demographics) of their grand opening that this is ‘junk mail’?? In town where one must travel twenty miles to get to the nearest gym this is GREAT NEWS and would be happily received!
However, nowadays there is very sophisticated technology in deciphering key prospects for a business for purposes of hitting the mark in marketing, which in the past was saved only for large corporations, but is now available to the small business owner, finally giving them the ability to micro-target their market for extreme results.
Using technology like this increases response and return on investment – and the mail recipient doesn’t mind either – in fact, they respond.
Take the mortgage industry for example – a mortgage broker can help elderly folks in need of a reverse mortgage by acquiring a targeted mailing list of that demographic and educating them in direct marketing pieces. Likewise many homeowners with ARMs are relieved when they get mail informing them of refinancing opportunities. Direct mail is a vital tool in targeting people who may need certain services or products – and with the mortgage industry trouble today, direct mail gets the word out to those who need assistance.
Targeted mail lists are key in handling problems such as Do-Not-Mail bills – which are only arbitrary solutions which will only become a bigger problem down the road.
Studies show that 70 percent of the US population prefers direct mail to email or phone calls. However, in order for it to be ‘direct mail’, it must ‘direct’ its message to people for whom it is relevant and to their purchasing habits.
Trying to stop the estimated $700 billion in sales that direct mail and catalogues will generate in 2007 alone would harm the economy – severely.
The truth is we should all do more to help preserve our planet – recycling helps, printing on recycled paper helps, buying recycled products helps, ensuring we replant trees that are cut down for use helps and ensuring that businesses spend the time and money to target mailing lists to their target markets to elicit a response, get more business and keep the economy going are ways businesses and individuals can be responsible.
It’s the circle of life – and it pertains to many aspects of our lives. As total destruction is a sign of irrationality at best, so can total preservation be a menace.
“The Newest Junk Mail Hater…a fatuous business model based on creating anger”
“For-Profit Crusade Against Junk Mail,” The New York Times
Pankaj Shah’s GreenDimes organization
American Forest & Paper Association