Good afternoon. How are you? The new Weekly Monster is in the works, but until that’s ready, let me share a recent piece of mail with you. Yesterday afternoon I received a 6×9″ postcard from Art Center College of Design, my alma mater — a school that I love truly, madly, deeply. Here is the front of the card:


OK… not that exciting, but alright.
Design leadership. You got it.
Hit me with your message, school!


The message is… there will be a message! Soon!

Now… again… I love Art Center. My three years at the school gave me all kinds of excellent tools to make a life in design. I know a lot of the people currently involved in running the place. Even though they might not all agree which way the school should go, they all work with honest enthusiasm and dedication to give the students the best experience possible.

As a corporate entity the school also likes to talk a good game about environmental sustainability, about greening up. In fact, they’re laudably doing so on their home page right now. So it’s more than a little irksome to receive this non-announcement card in the mail. How many thousands of these cards went out to the alumni mailing list? How much energy was wasted on a card that says and does absolutely nothing?

Pay careful attention to my mailbox? Why sure! I was going to just take the next two weeks worth of mail and chuck it in the trash unopened. But now that I’ve received the heads up, I’ll certainly keep my eyes open. I mean… for crying out loud. At the very least, give me a web link to go to. Or a phone number to call and inquire. Anything! Something to make this mailing something other than a complete waste.

I know it’s a small thing — a tiny misstep by an otherwise excellent school — but if you’re “leading the world in design” small things matter, and many small things add up to a big thing. (Also, there are pedantic cranks out there who like to blog about stuff.)

A good friend of mine works as a print rep. He is environmentally conscious, as is the printer he works for—which is one of the reasons I love them. He frequently teaches seminars on print production, sometimes with a focus on sustainability. When he talks about it, he acknowledges that all the soy ink and recycled paper in the world don’t make printing a green activity. So the rule is this: Think about what you’re printing. Maybe the correct answer is to send out an e-mail instead, or to build a mini-site. Save your printing dollars for the things that really need to be on paper. And when you do, put the information in a format people will want to keep. An object doesn’t become waste until somebody stops using it.

I’m going to stop using this postcard now.

Bitching and moaning aside, you do know—don’t you?—that 344 LOVES YOU


Addendum—Today’s Mail: Two wrist pads,
sent in two separate 22x15x5 boxes. Good times!



  • yi shun
    20 November 2007 3:06 pm

    ways to resuse your postcard:
    1. cut out every single picture. use them as personal talismans: “today i will buy a car.” “today i will paint a picture.” “today i will gaze endlessly into the horizon, looking thoughtful, when i really am just blinded by the lite-brite board behind me.” carry them about in your pocket; pass them on to friends.
    2. use the “leading the world in design” part as a bookmark.
    3. affix the remaining three white squares to a toilet paper tube with cooked rice grains. call it “commentary on minimalism, inspired by my mailbox and four years of fine, sustainable education.” (use the small strip leftover from cutting the rectangular bookmark to title the thing. sell it on ebay. make a million bucks.
    4. use the million bucks to fund the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity.
    aaaaaah. all’s well that ends up as a bookmark, personal talisman, and work of art.

  • 20 November 2007 4:20 pm

    yi shun, I was getting worried there at the first mention of toilet paper…*L*
    But what great ideas you have to make the card useful. Also, Stefan could just slap a new label on it and send it out as one of his holiday cards with some Santa Monsters drawn on it.

  • 20 November 2007 4:48 pm

    That’s a good idea, Annie! That’s actually a really good idea!
    What if I make some rubber stamps with a Christmas/New Year’s monster,
    so we can repurpose junk mail as holiday cards?
    the stamps would probably cost somewhere between $20 or $30 to make and ship. Would that be too expensive for the joke?
    What do you think?

  • yi shun
    21 November 2007 3:25 am

    i love both these ideas! … excepting, of course, the postcard toilet paper. ;P

  • 21 November 2007 7:25 am

    I’d chip in for rubber stamps. Sounds like a fun idea.

  • 21 November 2007 7:26 am

    Forgot to add: “tree hugger”

  • 21 November 2007 8:10 am

    I’m in for the stamps!

  • 21 November 2007 5:23 pm

    about your post….Stefan, I think you need to tell us how you REALLY feel 🙂
    no seriously I hear you on all points
    and the stamp is a bodacious idea

  • 21 November 2007 6:28 pm

    They must be rolling in postage funds!
    So now you have boxes to ship holiday gifts. Sure glad you were keeping a close eye on your mail……*L*……you might have missed those otherwise.

  • 24 November 2007 2:47 pm

    You’ve touched on one of my pet peeves, Stefan! I adore Amazon, and I don’t profess to be the world’s foremost environmentalist, but it truly bugs me to receive three items in three separate boxes, each individually shrink-wrapped in plastic with added cardboard to boot! Ugh.
    Another packaging disaster: I once tried a food delivery service for a month, and all the food came, each week, in a GIANT non-recyclable styrofoam cooler with each ITEM of food (three meals a day plus snacks, so about thirty-five packages) individually wrapped and then, in some cases, wrapped again, in more plastic. Not that I could afford to keep going with the service, but even if I’d been able to, I couldn’t deal with the build-up of coolers and containers in my garage. I’m STILL finding uses for them.
    You’d think with the advent of SPAM, there’d be a bit less junk mail, but no such luck!

  • yi shun
    26 November 2007 1:45 pm

    Try Freecycle for getting rid of your coolers (and anything else). At the risk of invoking the Stefan’s ire from using this comment section as a service, I’ll point you to them: 🙂

  • 26 November 2007 2:50 pm

    regardless of holiday cards etc. I would love to see some monster rubber stamps in the 344 store.

  • 26 November 2007 2:51 pm

    Thank you for the Freecycle link, Yi Shun. In fact, let me make it a clickable link:

  • Amy
    28 November 2007 12:29 pm

    Grace and I were just talking about this very matter about a week ago. We got similar postcards (from a paper company, of course) announcing that there would be another announcement coming. We pitched them in our recycle bins, but still got angry at the waste. And ditto for amazon and their overpackaging.

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