Paper Coupons Destroy 13 Million Trees Every Year & 99% Never Even Get Used

crustmania via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

In order to promote its online paperless coupon business, SavingStar has rolled out a new ad campaign designed to appeal to the environmental sympathies of department store bargain hunters: In an infographic and accompanying news release, it claims that 13.6 million trees are destroyed every year to produce paper coupons. And worse yet, 99% of those coupons never even get used, and are instead thrown out with the Sunday paper.

Here's the infographic:

grocery coupons
Infographic by SavingStar grocery coupons

Coupons double for advertising merely by existing in that fold between the Lifestyle section and Sunday Business, so I doubt that companies mind being dumped out. But it's certainly another example of the mindless wastefulness that our consumer society promotes. 13 million trees makes for a lot of forest being felled in the name of the fleeting promise of marginally cheaper potato chips.

And one last note about this infographic itself, and that 13 million number -- the source the company offers as producing its tree-killing stat is another green product company, Marcal. I couldn't find confirmation on the website that the number was accurate, and the company has not yet responded to a request for clarification. Suffice to say that even if it's not exactly 13 million, there are no doubt innumerable trees being destroyed in the name of incentivizing frugal shopping. And there's no doubt the vast majority of coupons end up littering recycling bins and trash cans instead of saving consumers 39 cents on laundry detergent.

As such, I welcome this guerilla ad campaign against traditional coupons, which, like styrofoam cups and classified ads, are increasingly looking like relics of the past.

Tags: Conspicuous Consumption | Consumerism | Deforestation

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