It seems to start about midway through high school when colleges and military branches are desperate to reach their potential incoming pupils that we start accruing junk mail. Then come the credit card and insurance companies and as our bank accounts grow the department stores find us and there is no escape. Though walking the three feet to the trash can to pitch that junk mail seems harmless enough, there are far greater hidden costs.
To start, more than 100 million trees that are harvested each year become that annoying stack of mail that you throw away every day, according to 41Pounds, the lead source on junk mail. 41 pounds is actually the average amount of junk mail each adult person receives every year, hence the name. The production and shipment of that mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars!
It seems to be the mindset that such a wasteful use of paper is fine as long as you recycle it in the end. Though recycling does help with some of the burden that the environment bears, your daily junk mail cannot actually be recycled. The ink used in mail specifically contains heavy metals that make the recycling process difficult or impossible.
What Can You Do? Junk mail can be composted if you take the proper steps to prepare it such as removing all plastic (including the cellophane windows) and shredding the remaining paper products.
You can also opt out whenever possible. Whenever you are purchasing things online, be sure to click the box that opts you out of receiving catalogs and newsletters in the mail and choose e-billing whenever possible.
For those pieces of junk mail that slip through the crack and still make it to your mailbox, there are many programs that will cut off the problem, personally. For a simple fee—five or ten dollars—these companies will contact every company that wrongfully has your home information and stop the mail. They guarantee 5 years of being junk mail free. 41Pounds, Catalog Choice, DMA Choice, and DoNotMail are all great resources to help clear your mailbox and your environmental conscience.
Photo Credit: Eco News Network