What we're doing wrong
Junking junk mail
6th September 2008
The 100 billion pieces of junk mail sent every year in the U.S. (848 pieces per household) contribute just as much to climate change as nine million cars
A lot of us find it annoying, an undeniable waste of paper. Now, a report released last month by ForestEthics estimates that junk mail also contributes to global warming: They calculate that the 100 billion pieces of junk mail sent every year in the U.S. (848 pieces per household) contribute just as much to climate change as nine million cars, enough to heat nearly 13 million homes over winter.
If you add up the greenhouse-gas emissions from the machinery used in harvesting trees, transporting and pulping the wood and printing and distributing the flyers, plus the cost of recycling, dumping or incinerating, the amount of carbon dioxide released annually accounts for more than 51 million tons.
About half that comes from cutting down trees that would normally soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and act as a brake on climate change. The report notes that an estimated 90,000 hectares of Canadian boreal forest are cut down to make junk mail in America – accounting for about 10 per cent of the Canadian boreal harvest.
The report calls for the creation of a Do Not Mail Registry in the U.S. for people to opt out of junk-mail delivery. Canada already has a “red dot” program, whereby residents can write a letter to Canada Post stating they do not wish to receive junk mail. For more information, contact your local postal outlet, or visit reddotcampaign.ca.
Published in The Green Report in The Globe and Mail