Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's in Your Junk Mail is Changing the Climate

by Ginger 
Cassady of ForestEthics for the Paper Planet

As we all know climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. Five of the seven hottest years on record occurred in the past decade, and we continue to see indications that our planet is warming at an unsustainable rate. Taking on Climate Change is going to require some hard but obvious choices. We need
to make a large commitment and investment in energy efficiency, reduce our greenhouse gases and address measures to stop deforestation. Again, obvious but hard choices.

These battles on Capitol Hill are sure to drag on. Meanwhile, there’s one choice we can make right now that requires almost no debate: getting rid of Junk Mail! More than 100 billion pieces of junk mail are delivered in the United States each year, which comes out to 848 pieces per household. Our research has determined that the production, distribution, and disposal of all that junk mail contributes to climate change by via what we call the Junk Mail Effect: the emission of over 51 million metric tons of greenhouse gases which is equivalent to the emissions of 10 million passenger cars. Getting rid of junk mail is one of the easiest choices we could make to make a difference in the battle against climate change.

Unfortunately, there’s not a one-stop-shop where you can request to be removed from junk mail lists, or at least not one that’s actually enforceable. All the current systems are voluntary; it's up to the junk mailer to honor your request your not. But we believe that it should be up to YOU. That’s why we are pushing for the first ever National Do Not Mail registry. With the stakes for our planet so high, the time is now for a fast, free, and enforceable way to stop the wastefulness and uselessness of unwanted junk mail.

Editors Note: This is the fourth installment in an 8 week "What's In Your Paper?" series on the Paper Planet focusing on specific sectors of the paper industry or paper from specific Endangered Forest regions. Subscribe or check back each Wednesday for a new posting in this series.

2 comments:

wildnis said...
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Robert Rijkhoff said...

Apart from the incredible mountain of waste caused by unwanted junk mail, there is another good reason why our politicians should want people to reduce junk mail. Stopping junk mail is relatively doable and rewarding. For most people not driving a car or not going on a foreign holiday is too much a sacrifice. Stopping something you don’t want in the first place, on the other hand, shows that doing your bit for the environment does not necessarily mean that you have to give up things you enjoy. It’s likely to encourage people do other simple things, such as refusing plastic bags in shops.

In the UK people do have a right not to receive junk mail but you need to register with quite a few opt-out schemes to stop the bulk of addressed and unaddressed advertisements. People can now register with all the major opt-out schemes in one go via Junk Buster (www.junkbuster.org.uk). Doing so will stop up to 60 per cent of junk mail, or 11.3 kilos per annum. An easy way to make a difference.