THE GOODS : The Award Is In the Mail

The votes have been counted in the first Junk Mail Awards, and the winner in the Most Wasteful Direct Mailer category is Reader’s Digest for its sweepstakes mailings. That’s who got the most nominations in the contest sponsored by the National Waste Prevention Coalition, a network of municipal recyclers.

Wrote one irritated consumer who nominated Reader’s Digest: “Not only do they precede each sweepstakes entry form with an announcement that we are going to get an entry form, but the forms themselves are often way oversized and always contain multiple unnecessary pages and envelopes within envelopes within envelopes.”

Winner in the Worst Single Example of Wasteful Direct Mail was Coca-Cola, for mailing samples of its new 20-ounce plastic bottle (empty) along with a plastic key chain and flyer wrapped in a paperboard box that was encased in heavy plastic.

“A lot of people had trouble with repetitive sweepstakes mailings,” said Seattle recycler Tom Watson, who chaired the contest. “People are also unhappy when they donate $10 to a nonprofit organization and then get so many repeated requests for money it costs more than $10 to mail them.”


The two Most Responsible Mailer winners were Seventh Generation in Colchester, Vt., whose mail-order forms provide checkoff boxes if you don’t want another catalogue, and Mountain Rose Herbs of Redway, which sends out only two catalogues a year, doesn’t rent its mailing lists and takes names off the mailing lists after 18 months of inactivity.