Five-minute Interview with Under the Canopy’s Marci Zaroff
For direct marketers, environmentalism is not just about using recycled paper and soy-based inks; it’s about building every component of your campaign around environmentally sound practices. From design and production to lists and fulfillment, there are a number of places where environment-friendly direct marketers can make a difference. We spoke with Marci Zaroff, founder, president and CEO of Under the Canopy, a catalog and Internet-based retailer of apparel and home products made from organic fibers, about the efforts her company makes to minimize its environmental impact.
Target Marketing: What does your company do to be environmentally friendly?
Marci Zaroff: Under the Canopy was founded on the principles of a triple bottom-line business: profitability, environmental sustainability and social responsibility. We promote the concept of “no compromise”. For our catalogs, hangtags, packaging and printed materials, we choose papers that consist of 20 percent to 100 percent post-consumer recycled content, and we print using soy-based inks whenever possible. We use recycled boxes for outgoing shipments, and we recycle all packaging from returns. We design and manufacture [our products] with organic and other earth-friendly fabrications and methods. We use only low-impact dyes, which have less than a 5-percent run-off into the environment. In the future, we also intend to track inputs during production (both in manufacturing and in catalog production) to measure our estimated savings to the environment.
TM: How do you communicate these actions to your customers?
MZ: Our mission is to demonstrate that consumers today do not have to choose between value and values. We display environmental messaging and recycled logos throughout our catalogs, which tells the “making a difference” story in a modern and user-friendly way. We educate about the importance of social and environmental responsibility via creative narratives and fabric stories. We have forged alliances and/or provided our products to countless high profile environmental organizations such as the Environmental Media Association, The Rainforest Foundation, The Coalition for Clean Air, The Rainforest Alliance and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). We have garnered the support of celebrities and media, such as InStyle Magazine, those who are jumping on the Eco-bandwagon, using their influence to promote positive messaging. We have joined forces with leading retailers such as Whole Foods Market and Jurlique to form synergistic partnerships. Other direct mailers such as EZIBA and Spiegel are offering Under the Canopy products as a way to effectively tell the Under the Canopy organic fiber story. I am an active international educator at both trade and consumer conferences; our Web site is loaded with educational information and recommended links; and our hangtags, packaging and advertising all reflect our consistent commitment to the planet. Being “green” is something that we are proud of, and we believe that our customers appreciate our efforts.