17 lbs.

As I came up the driveway after work yesterday I noticed a package on my doorstep.  I felt a tickle of joy, because who doesn’t love getting presents in the mail (even when you ordered them yourself online and forgot that you did so- thanks self!).  As I walked up to the door I squinted my eyes. That couldn’t be….could it? All of that? Really?

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Yep, that’s a giant bundle of Restoration Hardware catalogs.

I bent down to pick it up and almost fell over from the shock of the SEVENTEEN pound weight. Shrink wrapped and delivered via UPS (the package guiltily emblazoned with “carbon neutral shipping!” on it), this stack of bricks clamored down onto my dining table as I stood there in awe. What a truly obscene thing this is! I couldn’t even believe it- I had to open it to make sure that the whole neighborhood’s catalogs didn’t accidentally all get dropped on my stoop. Nope- just 11 catalogs all for me . Then I thought, maybe these are just delivered to members of the trade/ designer program? One quick check of Instagram proved that wrong too. And supported my own quickly developing feelings- people are PISSED about this.

Now I love Restoration Hardware’s products, and I order from them all the time for my clients. In my experience they have provided well-made, clean lined upholstered goods, bedding and accent pieces that are priced much better than a lot of designer brands I use.  And I will continue to order from them- but not without standing up against this offensive waste of trees.  I love getting a catalog as much as the next girl, there is something nice about flipping real pages and looking at items in an editorial manner that the internet just doesn’t provide. However, when I do all my ordering it is online. Restoration has a good website that is easy to order from, and I guarantee that most of their orders are placed that way.  And for those people who don’t have the internet and need to order over the phone, I doubt they are spending $1,299 on a Deconstructed 19th Century Replica Slope Arm Dining Chair.

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(11 books in total- and yet THE INTERNET)

So that leaves us wondering who are these for? I don’t have time to flip through 8 billion pages of catalogs of items I can find quickly online and neither do any of you. And I wouldn’t keep these “Source Books” in my office to use as a designer because they aren’t even helpful- there aren’t any dimensions listed on anything anyway! So I have to wonder, why would the big, smart business people running this company think this is a good use of a massive amount of money? It has to cost at least $10 to deliver each 17 lb. package and printing these things isn’t cheap either.  Doing some quick math (with the disclaimer that I got a C in Fundamentals of Pre-Calculus) they are likely spending millions on these things only to enrage their own consumers!   To me this whole thing seems like a backwards PR nightmare!  And there is a hint of that issue within the very package of these “books”- a slip of paper heralding their “commitment to the environment” and lauding the recycled paper they use to print these, the carbon neutral delivery system and the fact that they are only send them once a year. So basically, they are saving the environment, right?!

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(I clearly ripped this in a fit of environmental rage. Or just struggling to open the shrink wrap….)

I lumbered my stack of catalogs right to the recycling bin without looking at them (I spent an hour on their site at work already), as many of you probably did too. And it made me feel gross to be tossing out what felt like six trees. So I looked on the back and found out that you can opt out of receiving these.  Call Restoration at 1-800- 762-1005 with your address and cancel your “subscription”. I plan on doing it this morning, and I hope you do too.  It’s the only real way to send a message to the company that this isn’t what you want from them. If they really want to spend that kind of money per consumer, I personally would rather get a gift card for $20 along with a single, slim catalog of new collection highlights.  As much as I love Italian Banded Sateen Bedding (and I do, I really, really do) I love trees and oxygen more.

91 comments

  1. I can not even tell y’all how disappointed I have been with RH as of late. I have ordered furniture for a baby nursery that has been 3 months backordered, despite that they were not indicated as backordered items on their web site. Additionally, almost every gift that anyone purchased from my RH Baby registry has been delayed or backordered. How does this happen? Their customer service has been less than helpful or even pleasant when I have called for status updates. I am now 2 weeks away from having the baby and as designers, I am sure that most of you can appreciate how annoying this is when you want a project to be completed, especially when it is your own! I am seriously considering not ordering anything else from RH again, after this go-around with them, despite having purchased many items through them in the past. Receiving the stack of catalogs yesterday was just the icing on the cake!

  2. Cancelled future mailings Friday immediately after I received my stack. Initially, I also thought it must have been meant for the entire neighborhood!

  3. I received it at work, for which only one of those books is even relevant (outdoor). Ridiculous. This should be illegal and so should phone books!!

  4. Wow. Thanks for sharing. I know we had an employee receive two, yes TWO deliveries they sent last time. They were about half the weight but I too thought at the time what a waste it was. If we here at work or I get them at home I’ll definitely be calling. Again, thank you for sharing! I hope they get a ton of negative feedback about this.

  5. Im so glad you posted this. I thought the SAME thing. It felt like a very CLUMSY choice and not intuitive at all to have to reference different catalogs of each thing. First rule of design, keep it simple stupid.

  6. I echo your sentiments completely. I can’t believe the waste HOWEVER I am personally shocked that more people aren’t equally appalled by the number of Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and Pottery Barn Teen catalogs that arrive on our doorsteps like every three weeks. Yes, it’s jarring to see 17 lbs worth of catalogs arrive at once (and according to the company, it is only ONCE a year) but I can confidently say that I receive at least triple that weight of catalogs from PB and their subsidiaries in a year. Easily.

  7. I agree, I just threw them into the recycling bin too. I was actually annoyed I had to that…but I wasn’t about to bring them into the house.

  8. And yet no protests from environmentalists to opt out of the Sunday edition of the NY Times which kills 75,000 trees for that edition alone.

  9. We received the same hideous stack of waste too, as did many of our friends in the area. I love RH, and we’ve ordered a lot of things from them for our new home, but what a pathetic marketing move! Not only is it ineffective (who has time to thumb through an encyclopedia?), but it’s also causing a clear uproar and straight up pissing people off. Hopefully they’ll consider the environment next time around, but this overprinting of catalogs has been a standard practice of theirs for a long time (sigh).

  10. Thank you so much for posting about this! I absolutely feel the same way! Also, thanks for providing the 1-800 unsubscribe number. My catalogs are sitting by my doorway until I get the “unsubscribe” done. You’re the best and love reading your columns!

  11. Amen Erin! I unsubscribed after getting two phone book size “catalogs” a few years ago. Thank you thank you for posting about this and telling people how to opt out and send a message to RH.

  12. Wow, that is just ridiculous (and, yes, hypocritical). I try so hard to opt out of catalogs. It’s hard, though. I contact the companies to get off their mailing list, but some I manage to get back on. Ever for brands and companies from whom I’ve never purchased a thing.

  13. We got the stack and thought it was for the street. Such a waste of not only paper but ad dollars!!! How ridiculous. Went right to the recycle bin.

  14. When I got that, my first thought was that clearly their products are over-priced – and their business poorly run – if they are spending their money like this.

  15. Instagram lit up with so much disappointment over this! Good for you for speaking out. I’m guessing they are feeling a bit guilty themselves, having put a ONE PAGE disclaimer in the books…

  16. This is exactly how I feel when our phone books get delivered! However, I am using them to press some flowers that I am going to frame.

  17. I see your point(I got the lot literally dropped on my desk, and I jumped out of my skin), but this is a pretty interesting read as far as where the company is going. http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/why-the-huge-catalog-and-how-restoration-hardware-is-becoming-the-ikea-of-luxury-furnishings-203731

    I’m actually pretty involved in RH, and everything they are doing is gearing up to make big changes in the company. I think that the purposes of the catalogs are not necessarily for Interior Designers like you and I, its for the typical homeowner who needs inspiration and doesn’t keep a finger on the pulse of trends. I personally enjoy looking through some of the books, to see the larger than life designs and how to reel them in…I think that’s the idea.

    I also appreciate not receiving catalog after catalog all year long, like many other retail companies, some of which repeat things I’ve already seen, but change the cover. Anyway, that’s my mini soapbox I guess. I also agree with you that dimensions would take these to another level and much more useful.

  18. We are in the process of re-doing our house and have found the RH books to be very helpful. My wife keeps them as a resource guide and will refer to them throughout the year. To me, it makes much more sense receiving them once a year then getting a smaller catalog what seems to be every other week. Although I seem to be in the minority here, I do hope they keep the books. As for the trees, I have always been taught they are a renewable resource so not sure I understand the “Save the Tree” comment.

  19. I am on the opposite side of this argument. Don’t get me wrong, I love nature. However, I live in NC in an area that is full of tree farms and the tree industry. Once a tree is cut another is planted. It is a living for many families and none of it is wasted. Its a farm. Do you feel the same way when you cut produce and eat it? Farmers grow all sorts of things and trees are one of them.
    Love the blog and cannot wait to see your new reno.

  20. So glad to hear I was not the only one completely irritated by this. To add insult to injury, the catalogs in bulk were sent to my 4 year old.

    If someone signs up for these, they should receive them. Maybe they can qualify which ones they would be interested in and that would narrow down the offensiveness.

    The only thing they did right was send one bundle to my house and not more. I’m clearly a more frequent shopper of RH than my 4 year old and bought a bunch of lighting and accessories a few years ago. I appreciate they saw that I likely wouldn’t buy lighting again, so I wasn’t targeted. But my daughter was – and her only history of the brand was a single item of clothing that was gifted to her by someone else at Christmas. Hardly a likely buyer.

    There clearly needs to be some intelligence fused into marketing decisions there.

  21. Didn’t realize I was on the subscription list until I sprained my wrist getting the mail. Ugh. Canceling ASAP. The upholstery “source book” (a.k.a. “50 Pages of Greige”) is such a joke. I would have preferred a giant phone book over this pile o’crap. Anyway, thanks for posting about this, Erin. Hopefully RH will get the message :)

  22. YES!! preach it sister!
    I live in a loft building in Chgo and when they arrive for all 240 units, I go bonkers. I feel like we need Seinfeld episode to discuss the absurdity of it all. And I love RH. I will unsubscribe and thank you for providing the number.
    Also, you’re Instagram about your pizza night at home…thanks for not making a perfectly designed vignette for it. Love that you keep it real and not show it next to an unused lipstick and a random flower. I never comment but you struck a chord!

  23. Glad you wrote this…that is completely hypocritical to put a sheet of paper into their 17 lbs of catalogues and claim that they are environmentally conscious…I wonder how much waste also was created from the production of these catalogues that ended up on the floor of the printer…to me, I do not care for RH and their constantly ripping off other creative companies to go mega-produce their product off-shore…the fact that someone in their board room did not hit the “pause” button to say “this may not be a good idea” is just more of the same from a company that I view as having very little integrity…

  24. Thanks for the call to action. Just cancelled my subscription. Feeling lighter already…

  25. As much as I love catalogs, this just seemed excessive. However, one of last year’s catalogs is leveling a broken armchair in my family room so in that way it wasn’t a TOTAL waste? maybe?

    Thank you for posting!

  26. I’m morbidly fascinated that we seem to have gotten a *different* yet equally horrendous package from them. Instead of “Baby & child” we got “Leather”. Not that it made any difference, straight into the recycling bin with the lot of it!

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