An open letter to the Sierra Club membership services department

Today I opened my mailbox and, as usual, found a stack of fat junk mail envelopes (including three from American Express) and two catalogs. As part of my work doing little steps to improve my environmental footprint, I’m calling all the senders and asking to be removed from lists. (Apparently, being “opted out” of junk mail and credit solicitations is not enough.)

And I had an envelope from you. I opened it and actually thought, “Maybe I ought to join!” I thought the giveaway backpack was a neat item. Then, as more and more objects continued to fall out of the envelope, I began to lose all interest in the Sierra Club.

I don’t know too much about you – by reputation only. But I was taken aback, then alarmed, when I realized that an environmental organization asking me to join to protect the trees (do you see the irony here?) sent me an envelope as fat as that from American Express, containing the following items:

* One color flier with a picture of sequoias and a fake handwritten note on the back.
* One return envelope.
* One small plastic Sierra Club sticker.
* One four-color glossy paper with information about membership benefits.
* One thick legal-size paper with petitions, membership forms and card.
* One letter – not half a page, not one page, but TWO full pages.
* One small paper asking me to respond immediately.
* One small yellow paper saying you are America’s most effective environmental organization.

Oh my gosh! I’m STILL not done!

* One very unusual size paper, four-color printed in full bleed, with information about the Giant Sequoia.
* And my least favorite item, the two plastic-coated sticky 12-month calendars that I may put on my computer keyboard.

This is a HUGE mound of stuff to throw into my recycling bin. It’s almost as much paper as the Wednesday ad circulars from my newspaper. Further, I spent all of June keeping track of how many plastic bags I did not accept when doing my regular shopping (56) and bemoaning how much other plastic is in my life. I have to say, I never thought I’d be getting more plastic, unrequested, from the Sierra Club! (By the way, I use a laptop, and the calendar stickers wouldn’t even fit — and I rarely need a calendar, anyway.)

Also, because I have worked in public relations and publications for years, I couldn’t help but notice that every single item in your mailing was a different size. Many were on unusual sizes of paper. From my experience, those choices drive up the cost of printing and production exponentially. And, with all those different-sized items in a single envelope, I suspect your mailings must be hand-stuffed. I hope you use a U.S. mailing house with fairly compensated workers, and I wonder why you don’t send a persuasive one-sheet letter and dedicate the cost savings to more earth-friendly marketing options.

I agree that activism can have a greater effect than just limiting our individual garbage. But ideally, I think we should do both. Therefore, I am not convinced that the Sierra Club is the best use for my contributions.

I plan to post this letter on my blog, Cheap Like Me (where economy and ecology meet) to see if my readers think I’m off base — or possibly one or two of them would like a non-recyclable plastic keyboard calendar.


[Cheap Like Me]

So … any takers? I would be happy to send you a Sierra Club sticker or a calendar, whose instructions read, “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.”


3 thoughts on “An open letter to the Sierra Club membership services department

  1. Bugabooru says:

    Ha! You make some good points.
    However, I must say that I love those stickers!
    Honestly, I found your blog because I searched for “Sierra Club calendar sticker” – I was hoping to find sometehere to buy them.

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