News Archive 2009-2018

Video: Bowdoin Grad’s ‘Catalog Canceling Challenge’ with Fourth-Graders on OWN Archives

Ted Wells ’98 and his fourth graders in Brookline, Mass., were featured in this segment broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) highlighting the Catalog Canceling Challenge, a movement they created among more than 8,900 students in 22 states who have canceled more than 60,000 unwanted catalogs in an effort to save trees, water, energy and the climate.

2 thoughts on “Video: Bowdoin Grad’s ‘Catalog Canceling Challenge’ with Fourth-Graders on OWN

  1. Ed Pierce

    This video is a great reminder of why our youth is losing touch with the other side of the story. Propaganda like this being taught in public schools squeezes out room for the full picture. A guy who went to college in Maine ought to understand what it means when paper mills are shut down. Jobs are lost, and families are strained. If Mr. Wells did not venture beyond Brunswick in his four years, maybe he wuld consider taking his kids to a closed paper mill in Maine and let them see the poverty that lack of industry creates. That is a lesson – for Mr. Wells and his children. This “challenge” is a unfortunate feel-good veil that blurs the reality.

    I am disgusted.

    Ed Pierce, ’03

  2. Ted Wells


    I’m sorry you’re disgusted.

    The other side of this issue was discussed with my students. The fact that jobs are connected to making junk mail. Yet I’m doubtful that our 60,000 canceled catalogs canceled in 4 yrs has cost any jobs as that many catalogs are made and mailed every 2 minutes in the US. (And only 2% are used for a purchase, by the way … it’s mostly “trash” or “junk” delivered to our homes that we instantly move to the recycling bin and have to pay taxes for trash/recycling removal). Finally, the project was entirely optional for the kids. Many participated, but some did not.

    I spent plenty of time outside of Brunswick and I hate the idea of anyone losing jobs, if that ultimately happens. But I challenge you to consider what our world’s (and Maine’s) economy and environmental health will look like by 2100 if we don’t consider a more sustainable path by scaling back our energy use to slow global warming. The first/easiest step in cutting back our GHG emissions is energy efficiency. And in terms of important first steps here, I’d say scaling back industries that 98% of the public is truly annoyed by, such as the “direct mail” industry, is a logical first step. Perhaps we try to trim back unwanted phone books next. Ultimately, passing cap and trade legislation, would be nice.

    I’m thinking long term, Ed. You’re thinking short term. And perhaps you don’t believe in climate change? These two things are usually what our disagreement comes down to.


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