Every year my resolution is to get organised. Really organised. I mean super organised. I will know what I’m supposed to be doing at every moment of the day and what’s more, I will be doing it!
In my mind, there was only one thing holding me back from this heightened state of organisation: the perfect personal organiser (PPO).
In the past, freebie diaries generously donated by companies I’d never heard of had conspired to distract me from my PPO search, and childhood memories of colourful PPOs with cartoon stickers only compounded my confusion.
But this year I was determined. I would find my PPO. I could forgo the cartoon stickers. I did, however, have one other small criterion to be fulfilled (on top of its genius organisational properties) – it must be an environmentally-happy shade of green.
Not much to ask in these eco-enlightened times, I thought, as I began to google. And within seconds I had recycled leather personal organisers, plus a couple ingeniously crafted from recycled circuit boards.
Excellent! I thought. Job done. And of course, a recycled personal organiser will have recycled paper inserts, won’t it?
Erm, no. ‘Fraid not. EcoCentric, The Green Stationery Company – they could give me the recycled organiser but not the recycled paper inserts to go with it.
Discussion forums confirmed it – apparently Filofax (the ‘Hoover’ to the ‘vacuum cleaner’ of the personal organiser world) had tried recycled paper, but it didn’t work out, sorry, end of story.
No, no, no. This paper trail does not end here. I had come this far; the good folk at Filofax would have the answer. So I dropped them a (paper-free of course) email to find out why recycled paper inserts were no longer a part of their range.
I didn’t have to wait long for a response…
Filofax is a premium brand and consistency of quality of product is absolutely paramount across all of our white and cream paper ranges. The recycled paper products we used to market were more expensive than the standard range but looked inferior. Sales were poor and our retailers didn’t want to stock the product.
It is difficult for us to offer an environmental paper product in one or two particular sizes or layouts within a range of sixty diaries and planners in the UK and many more worldwide without offering it across the whole range and this is impractical from a retail space and cost point of view. It would mean doubling up our offering and inevitably mean some small production runs in some formats which would increase the cost for the consumer.
Rather than focus on the environmental marketing direction for Filofax which is not easy to accommodate logically within our global range, we have focussed on the charity direction where we saw that we could provide a real direct and tangible benefit to a great cause, The Breast Cancer Campaign. Since 2005 we have generated over £400,000 for the charity and are very proud to have been in the top ten list of fund generators over the last five years.
Our other group company, Letts, is an FSC approved supplier and is able to produce bespoke FSC accredited product ranges for customers where the volume justifies it. Likewise, Letts has produced recycled case bound diaries in theme ranges and on A4 and A5 office diaries. The Letts offering in this area is expanding for 2010.
I have to say I found this reply quite worrying – and promptly told them so. It seemed to me as if Filofax had tried recycled paper once and because it was not a success straight away had abandoned it – despite the significant (and ongoing) improvement in the quality of recycled paper and the lower price that comes with greater demand.
Instead, Filofax donates a proportion of its profits from a particular diary to charity. This is great, of course, but is not the same as pursuing a more sustainable business model.
They were soon back in touch to clear up my confusion…
I would like to clarify that Filofax is not adverse to considering recycled paper products. We undertake an annual range review and development process that starts each year in March. During this process we review latest developments, trends, environmental issues etc., and decide the structure and content of the following year’s range.
It certainly isn’t the case that we will not consider reintroducing recycled papers based on our previous range and sales of such products. The company understands that development has moved forward in this area and the quality of recycled paper is much improved.
My previous email sought to explain the reason we dropped earlier recycled paper products – essentially because the perceived quality was not acceptable to the retail trade and therefore consumers did not have access to it.
I was also hoping to explain the difficulties facing us if we introduced a recycled version of all our diaries and refills, as well as the inevitable disappointment we would cause some consumers if we only offered recycled products in a minority of formats. Things have moved on as you point out in terms of the quality of paper and our own distribution channels therefore it would be remiss of us not to consider recycled paper again.
They directed me to their environmental policy online, which they are still in the process of developing: www.filofax.co.uk/aboutus/environment.asp
This was better, but it sounded as if they might need a bit of a push from the shopping public to go wholesale down the recycled route. So I asked how us Green Girls could make our feelings known to the big bosses.
Regarding any future developments in recycled products, probably the best way to register an interest is either via our focus groups (our VIPs who we run ideas past) or via our opt in facility to receive newsletters and promotions. Both these can be subscribed to via our website. I would say though that at present there is no filtering of interests, so for instance we could not register anyone to only receive information on recycled products.
The upshot is though that they meet next month to decide their future plans – so it’s probably best just to email them through their Customer Services contact as I did to let them know that you want the future for Filofax to be a green one.
In the meantime, I’m using my freebie diary. Waste not, want not!
There was a postscript to this correspondence. Filofax got in touch to say that they’d found some stock of their old recycled notepaper packs and wondered if we wanted them – a couple of thousand of them.
They weren’t sure how we’d distribute them but said we’re welcome to use them as we see fit. They are Filofax personal size packs of plain white notepaper.
What do you make of this? And do you want some?!
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