Without opting out of mailing lists, we receive a serious amount of catalogs in the mail. Each year 19 billion catalogs are mailed to American consumers. Because most have glossy covers, many people think the product’s recycling potential diminishes. Because of this, catalogs and magazines with glossy covers have some of the lowest recycling rates.
Of what we throw away, 34 percent is made of paper and only half of this gets reused. These catalogs and paper products in landfills increase the amount of level of methane gas emissions. Methane gas has a significant carbon footprint, as it is about 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
According to Catalog Choice, a project sponsored by the Ecology Center, these 19 billion catalogs have a serious environmental impact:
- 53 million trees used
- 3.6 million tons of paper used
- 38 billion BTUs of energy used to produce this paper, enough to power 1.2 million homes for a year
- 5.2 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, equal to the annual emissions of two million cars
- 53 billion gallons of water used, enough to fill 81,00 Olympic-sized swimming pools
Most catalog companies don’t use recycled paper. Many use bleach and gloss coated paper productions which release chemical toxins into the environment.
All municipal recycling programs accept catalogs. If you do have select catalogs to which you subscribe, be sure to put them in your recycling bin.