What has multiple volumes like the World Book Encyclopedia, outweighs a flat-screen TV, and has more pages than the Complete Works of William Shakespeare?

If you guessed the latest catalog from Restoration Hardware, you’d be right.

At the beginning of June, furniture retailer Restoration Hardware put a controversial twist on traditional catalog marketing. Rather than send a new catalog once a month, Restoration Hardware published a 13-volume, 3300-page sourcebook detailing its offerings for the next 12 months. Weighing between 12 and 17 pounds and wrapped tightly in plastic, the Restoration Hardware annual sourcebook was mailed to millions of households across the US.

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To explain the reasoning behind this large package, the sourcebook includes a cover sheet that states, “Heavier Load = Lighter Carbon Footprint.” Restoration Hardware claims that their paper is forest-certified and their shipping is carbon-neutral, minimizing any negative effects on the environment. By publishing one sourcebook a year, Restoration Hardware also gives consumers “inspiration” all year round and ensures that the sourcebooks are only shipped once.

“While not intuitive, based on the size of our once per year mailing, we have made several changes that are both good for our business and much better for the environment than our previous methodology and those employed by our competitors,” Chairman and CEO Gary Friedman told Retail Wire. “We have moved from mailing our Source Book 10 times per year to once per year, reducing our pages circulated at the percentage of our sales by approximately 70 percent.”

For our members and for the direct marketing sector as a whole, DMA supports environmental initiatives through our Green 15 toolkit, which addresses renewable resources, mail production and pollution reduction. Although the efforts that have gone into making the sourcebook may be sustainable or well-intentioned, many consumers are skeptical and trying to figure out what to do with the massive tome. DMA encourages consumers to recycle unwanted catalogs (if they aren’t reading the sourcebook for furniture inspiration or using it as a stepstool, a coffee table, or a booster seat). DMA’s Recycle Please campaign offers advice and information on how to minimize the impact of direct mail on the environment and how to find the nearest recycling center. We invite consumers interested in learning more about managing unwanted mail and receiving only the most relevant offers from retailers and businesses to visit DMAChoice.