By Larraine Roulston :
Most people regard junk mail as annoying, so simply trash it all without giving it a second glance. Even when the environmental impact of such waste was realized, postal services continued to deliver junk mail because they received additional income for their service. As the junk mail was generally discarded, environmental organizations challenged the post office to eliminate delivery; however, governments fought back. Since their being paid hinged on delivery, they argued, they had an obligation to deliver it. At the end of verbal battle and public protests, courts ruled that citizens have the right to refuse non-personalized mail. The easiest way to deal with junk mail is to place a “No Junk Mail’’ sticker on your door or inside your postal box.
Another form of junk mail, which is harder to avoid, arrives as inserts in community newspapers — often weighing more than twice as much as the newspaper itself. Apart from those who sift through their weekly promotional coupons, most recipients of community newspapers will declare all those flyers a waste.
It is estimated that junk mail accounts for 1/3 of all U.S. mail. The organization 41pounds.org states that, by reducing your junk mail for 5 years, you’ll conserve 1.7 trees and 700 gallons of water, reduce global warming emissions, and gain about 350 hours of free time. Even if you post a “No Junk Mail’’ sticker, you’ll end up receiving, in all likelihood, some either by subscribing to a community newspaper or from those who opt to ignore your note. The following tips offer ideas to put all that paper to additional use before recycling it.
- Place a flyer under a pet’s eating and drinking bowls to protect your floor from spills.
- Line a bird cage with a few catalog pages, and compost the sheets when sufficient feathers and droppings have accumulated.
- Use the flyers in an area to train a pup where to pee.
- Place a stack of the envelopes beside your telephone to jot down information.
- You may be able to make use of any enclosed return envelopes yourself. Just be sure to cover barcodes that may be
- printed on this type of envelope.
- Dampened shredded newsprint provides excellent bedding for red wiggler worms when you compost with a worm bin. In addition, it can be added to a small pet’s cage bedding.
- Let children be creative with a pile of junk mail. They can create collages, papier-mâché objects, folded fans, paper link chains; and kids can design their own pictures with it. Make a safe nontoxic glue by mixing a
- little flour and water. Some of the added links below have craft images and instructions.
- A colorful sheet can be used as gift-wrapping. You will be heralded as an individual who promotes reuse!
- A sheet can be used to wrap a package for mailing. You’d have to tape a clear sheet on it for the address.
- Shred or crumple it, and use as packing material if you ship products to customers.
- Since a refrigerator’s cooling system works more efficiently when its shelves are full, you can crumple up junk mail and place it on sparsely filled racks. This is an especially good idea if you are going on vacation and have depleted your fridge of all perishables during your absence.
To be good stewards of the earth, we must recognize that we do not have unlimited resources to waste.
Larraine authors the children’s book series on composting and pollinating at www.castlecompost.com