Apparently when you buy a house, all sorts of groups decide that you must have money that you want to give them. My junk mail levels have exploded in the past couple months.
A lot of it is catalogs from companies I've never heard of, home furnishings and the like. A fair bit of it is realtors—what part of "just bought a house" do they not understand? But quite a lot of it is from nonprofits that want me to donate money.
My donation list is full up, so I'm going to turn them all down. But I wanted to call out one organization in particular for making me not want to donate to them:
The Sierra Club sent me a big envelope stuffed with paper.
It contains two petitions to send to Congresspeople. It contains a donation form. It contains a four-page letter explaining why I should donate. It contains a little "act now" flyer (repeating info from the letter, I think), and a little flyer claiming that Sierra Club has been "Named America's Most Effective Environmental Organization." (Hey, Aspen Institute! Would you have given them that title if you knew how much paper they're wasting on junk mail?) It contains a glossy full-color flyer about the nifty 1892-style rucksack they'll give me if I join. It contains a full-color sticker to apply to my car window. It contains a business-reply envelope, of course, but that's normal.
And it contains a huge (roughly 2' x 3') full-color glossy map of the United States, with dozens of cities on it, colored in green and brown. The back of the map lists information about a dozen endangered, threatened, or at-risk species across the US.
Oh, yes, and most useless of all: Two stickers, each one about 15" x 1", each showing a tiny one-year-long Sierra-club-branded calendar, starting with November 2009 and ending with October 2010. What does the Sierra Club have to do with calendars? Glad you asked. On the back, they each say: "Affix this calendar strip on your PC keyboard, your desk or anywhere else you need a calendar. Every time you see it, you will be reminded of the important contribution you are making to protect America's wildlands." Presumably by noticing that America's trees are being cut down to produce wasteful useless material like this.
I guess this whole ridiculous package must be an effective recruitment tool, or they wouldn't do it. But to me, it says "We care so much about environmental issues that we'll waste a large amount of paper (plus money for postage) to send completely unnecessary junk mail (and much more of it than any other nonprofit) to people who aren't even members."
Sorry, Sierra Club; I'm not interested in paying for you to send out glossy fold-up US maps and calendar stickers to everyone who might possibly send you money someday.
Huh. I seem to be kind of cranky about this. Guess I feel more strongly about it than I thought.
Anyway. Into the recycle bin with all of it. Except the letter, which I'll hold onto so I can call the 800 number in the morning and get off their mailing list.
. . . Wait, stop the presses! There's another candidate for Most Wasteful Environmental Organization!
A little further down in my stack of papermail was a large-size envelope from the National Wildlife Federation. It contains the usual plea letter (only 2 pages), return envelope, glossy flyer for their donation premium (a blanket), and address stickers—but it also contains a full-size full-color 18-month wall calendar titled "Treasures of Wildlife."
By sheer quantity of paper wasted, it's probably roughly a tie. However, I'm inclined to cut the NWF a little bit of slack, on the grounds that (a) the calendar is actually useful as a calendar (I might use it if I didn't otherwise have one), (b) it contains useful and relevant bits of info, and (c) it contains several large cute pictures of attractive wild creatures.
Still. NWF, come on. You're an environmentalist organization. Why are you wasting all this paper—and all this printing and mailing money—sending out junk mail to random strangers?
Again I suppose it must be effective. But it sure turns me off. I won't be adding the NWF to my list either.
Runners-up in this little contest (they all sent junk mail, but none of it was all that much more paper than most junk mailers):
- National Parks Conservation Association
- Audobon Society (bonus points for not providing a phone number to call to be removed from their list)
- National Resources Defense Council (Cons: used a full-size 8.5"x11" envelope, with alarmist "How will this wolf pup survive . . . once its pack is gunned down?" message. Pros: less paper than the others, and only one sheet of the paper is glossy color, and there's a helpful pie chart explaining that they spend only 11% of their money on fundraising)
- World Wildlife Fund (small envelope, not much paper, but all of it is glossy. And of course they include address stickers; I now have enough of those to last me about ten years, at my normal rate of sending papermail)
I suppose I may as well add a runner-up in the non-environmentalist category: the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society has sent me three identical mailings in the past couple months. Each one contains a pack of address labels and a nickel. Y'know, I sympathize with their cause—my mother died of leukemia—but I've always disliked this fundraising ploy, which they've been using on me for years. If I had a nickel for every time—oh, wait, I do.