November 20, 2008

Forest Ethics E-Mail Message

Forest Ethics sent me this e-mail message today (click on the image to read the message --- I crossed out the name of the author to protect the individual who sent the message).

I did not previously opt-in to receive messages from Forest Ethics.

I have two questions for you.

Question #1: If a cataloger sends a catalog (a message crafted on paper harvested from trees, a practice that probably damages the planet) to a customer who shopped on the website of the catalog brand, and the customer did not opt-in to receive catalog marketing and doesn't want to receive catalog marketing, would Forest Ethics feel that this practice is harmful and should be stopped?

Question #2: If Forest Ethics sends an e-mail message (a message sent by servers that run off of electricity largely fueled by coal via practices that probably damage the planet) to an individual who previously interacted with Forest Ethics in some manner, and the individual did not opt-in to receive e-mail messages from Forest Ethics and doesn't want to receive messages from Forest Ethics, would Forest Ethics be practicing a tactic similar to that of the cataloger in Question #1?

I'm quite confident that Forest Ethics did not intend to spam me or to annoy me. They simply wanted to share an interesting story with me.

Maybe in the future, all of us can try to see things from the point of view of another individual or organization, realizing that the vast majority of folks are not evil ... that many of us send things that somebody else doesn't want to receive.

2 comments:

  1. My name is Will Craven, and I am the spokesperson in question for ForestEthics’ Do Not Mail campaign. Kevin interviewed me about Do Not Mail back in August, and I really appreciated the chance to make our case on a well-regarded direct marketing blog. I sent him the above email last week to gauge his thoughts on what this says about Americans and their relationships (or lack thereof) with direct mail.

    Kevin wrote:
    “Question #1: If a cataloger sends a catalog (a message crafted on paper harvested from trees, a practice that probably damages the planet) to a customer who shopped on the website of the catalog brand, and the customer did not opt-in to receive catalog marketing and doesn't want to receive catalog marketing, would Forest Ethics feel that this practice is harmful and should be stopped?”


    That ought to be the choice of the recipient, and choice is what our Do Not Mail Registry (donotmail.org) would provide to Americans, 89% of whom say a national registry should be available.

    Kevin wrote:
    “Question #2: If Forest Ethics sends an e-mail message (a message sent by servers that run off of electricity largely fueled by coal via practices that probably damage the planet) to an individual who previously interacted with Forest Ethics in some manner, and the individual did not opt-in to receive e-mail messages from Forest Ethics and doesn't want to receive messages from Forest Ethics, would Forest Ethics be practicing a tactic similar to that of the cataloger in Question #1?”


    The Do Not Mail Registry that we’re calling for would allow recipients to receive direct mail from companies with which they have an ongoing business relationship.

    But it’s a bit convenient for a direct marketing guy to be making the case that my sending him a ten line email is somehow comparable to the environmental problems associated with the logging, producing, printing, and distributing of the paper in catalog that might go to a million people a day.

    I covered this in the August interview with Kevin, noting:
    “Paper media by definition consumes trees. E-Commerce currently depends largely on fossil fuels, but could easily be fueled in the future entirely or in part by cleaner, more efficient alternative fuels.

    It seems prudent to transition to the more flexible energy option, rather than the one that is almost certainly of high resource impact.”

    Kevin wrote:
    “I'm quite confident that Forest Ethics did not intend to spam me or to annoy me. They simply wanted to share an interesting story with me.

    Maybe in the future, all of us can try to see things from the point of view of another individual or organization, realizing that the vast majority of folks are not evil ... that many of us send things that somebody else doesn't want to receive.”


    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. ForestEthics doesn’t believe in good or bad people—only good and bad choices. None of us are perfect, and we all can do a better of job of protecting the environment, and innovating within our industries.

    But to be clear, ForestEthics wouldn’t be running a Do Not Mail campaign if this was about an email or two. This is about waste on a massive scale, and about American consumers having the choice to opt-out of something they increasingly resent and do not want to be a part of.

    Sign our petition to establish a national Do Not Mail Registry here and join our business coalition here.

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  2. Thanks for the feedback, Mr. Craven, I do appreciate it.

    We can agree to disagree on Question #2.

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