Monday, January 12, 2009

Junk Mail – How Can It Be Stopped?

Some companies seem to get it… By reducing your paper use, you can also dramatically reduce greenhouse gases. By promoting services like e-statements and online bill pay, your company can also save money. For those of us who do not understand the correlation between paper and climate change, here are a few facts:

It takes trees to make paper…lots of them. Trees are the planet’s “filters”. A tree takes in carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) and produces live-giving oxygen. According to Conservatree, just 1 carton (10 reams) of 100% virgin copier paper uses .6 trees, and 1 tree makes 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,333.3 sheets. Now, let’s factor in pulp processing. Besides the tremendous energy usage to operate these paper mills (that’s more greenhouse gases), the converting of pulp to paper takes a tremendous amount of water which also has to be reprocessed and re-filtered…again, more energy and greenhouse gases. And last, the inks. Most printing is still performed with petroleum and solvent based inks. Not only does that keep our country dependent on oil, but these inks contain toxins which can eventually end up leeching into public water supplies through old landfills.

So, let’s get back to how you can rid your company of the most common annoyance and help the cause: junk mail. Nobody wants it, you did not ask for it, yet it continues to show up in your mailroom, desks,or PO boxes day after day. In fact, the organization estimates that weight to be the amount of junk mail every American receives in just one year. If your organization is diligent, then you might try to sort through those items which can be recycled, but for the majority, this so far is not the case. Most junk mail gets thrown out with the trash, and ends up in landfills. Here is just some of the impact:

• More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail. 42% of timber harvested nationwide becomes pulpwood for paper.
• The world’s temperate forests absorb 2 billion tons of carbon annually. Creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.
• About 28 billion gallons of water are wasted to produce and recycle junk mail each year.
There is an easy solution: Catalog Choice offers a free service wherein you can use their website to unsubscribe from various mailings. As mentioned earlier, , also offers, for a nominal fee, a comprehensive unsubscription program to help your company in stopping that annoying flow of unwanted catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, and just about anything else you do not wish to see in your mailbox.

You can do your organization a favor and help your community and planet in the process. Now, can someone tell me how I can stop that endless flow of junk e-mail?

Photo courtesy of TELportfolio on Flickr.

Joseph Winn is the President/CEO of GreenProfit Solutions, Inc. which assists businesses in becoming environmentally responsible. You may view their website at or e-mail Joseph at [email protected] .